The Promise Ring: “Emergency! Emergency!”
I think I may have said before that I was never a fan of emo — and even beyond that, I have to admit I never really got what defined emo. There seemed to be too wide of a stylistic range among bands I heard to really put a finger on it. Or maybe I just wasn’t listening closely enough. Basically, it just seemed like a bunch of young, somewhat whiny bands taking themselves too seriously.
Which isn’t to say that I don’t like any bands supposedly labeled as “emo.” In fact, there’s one particular album that I knew was supposed to be emo that caught my attention in 1999: Very Emergency, by the Promise Ring. It’s apparently more poppy than their earlier couple of albums (I say “apparently” because admittedly I have yet to listen to those others), but regardless, it worked for me. It’s got a lot of the crunchy guitar sound that I love, and lead singer Davey von Bohlen has a great, slightly nerdy vocal tone that I liked — and nowhere on the album did it work better than on what is essentially the album’s title track, “Emergency! Emergency!” The song is extremely catchy, bordering on power-pop, with just a dash of drama amid the churning guitars, but not so much that it weighs the song down. In fact, despite the desperate-sounding call to action of “SOS! It’s very emergency!,” one can feel a sense of humor at play, just a touch of whimsy in the vocals that lightens it all up and makes for one great candied emo confection.