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Emanuel | Soundtrack to a Headrush | review | alternative | Lollipop


Soundtrack to a Headrush (Vagrant)
by Scott Hefflon

I hate screamo and melodic emocore and whatever else they call the tousled-hair pussy "rock" that gets teenage girls wet. It's all posing, looking sensitive and troubled, all whining and yelping and screaming about girls who think they're losers with silly pants and no talent or originality, and it all sells like hotcakes because there are a lot of stupid people in this world.

Emanuel, on the other hand, rock my jaded ass. The guy can sing and scream equally well, which is rare. Most screamers who sing the "clean bits" sound like sissies, or they miss a lot of notes and no one, like, says anything. It's kinda mind-boggling if you think about it, but most people don't, it seems. Similarly, most singers who scream sound pretty lame. It's thin and lacks balls. Metal and hardcore meatheads have the balls but can't sing for shit, and indie rockers scream like girls. That's the way it is, just face it. That's why when a metal or hardcore band can pull off both, we rejoice. And when a heartthrob pop band actually rocks, we rejoice. Emanuel rocks.

Self-loathing singer/guitarist Matt Breen writes thoughtful lyrics without being a wanker, and writes swerving melodies. Pop melodies are hard to write without sounding formulaic. You know the chorus is coming, and you know the key it's gonna be in and that there'll be layered harmonies to make it huge, but Emanuel have the good sense to slip an icecube in your shorts to keep you on your toes. They spank your ass with a "huh?" chord, an offbeat bridge, just a little something thrown into the singalong to trip you up the first few times and make you sing a part that's not coming up for another four bars. And they wink at you playfully.

People either love or hate Emanuel. There's no middle ground here. I usually hate this kinda stuff cuz it's either pussy Saves the Day shit trying to howl, or it's metal/hardcore tuff guys trying to prove they're not one-dimensional knuckledraggers. Emanuel write solid pop rock: Angsty and heavy without being screamo metal, melodic and catchy without being sissy whine.


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