I'm Only A Man

Written by: TL on 06/11/2007 02:39:13

Seeing as I'm getting sick of defending bands who've taken the liberty to actually evolve as artists (HOW DARE THEY!?), I'm going to pretty much refrain from it in this review, let the people who care enough argue themselves to death over whether or not changes are for the better, and focus on the new Emery record "I'm Only A Man" for what it is.

Now the seemingly random dynamics that worked so beautifully on the band's debut you can pretty much forget about, as the new material is of a much more structured character than we're used to. Songs like "Under Serious Attack" and "Listening To Freddie Mercury" are the only previous tracks that, in my mind, can be compared to the new songs. The band still plays at highly sentimentally charged moods, loaded with melancholy and eruptions of screaming despair and rage, but on "I'm Only A Man" subtlety has gained a lot of ground on the dense melodrama that used to characterize the band, and the outbursts of sheer emotions are now placed as climaxes to progressions very similar to those of Brand New's "The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me". Clever lyrics tell touching stories of shattered dreams, personalities and relationships and of facing own failures, while shifting seamlessly back and forth between the perspectives of narrator and protagonist, outlined by shifts in the vocal harmonies.

Speaking about vocals it can be argued that a lot of the appeal of the new songs rests heavily upon the talent of Toby Morell's vocals, as the instruments have moved to the back of the picture, acting more as support to his singing than as focus points on their own. That's not to say there aren't some goodies spread out around the record though - just check out the pianos that enter in the beginning of "What Makes A Man A Man" for instance. Also in the utilization of the vocals, developments have taken place, as the things that catch your attention are no longer "super lines" as we're used to from especially the band's debut. Instead what draws your ears is now refrains that are closely entwined with the instruments and the mood present in the individual song.

Now there is easily enough musical talent and depth of content in this record to earn it a stamp of quality, as should be plain for all to hear who can manage to listen without bias. I could still talk about how it's still never coming close to making the impression "The Weak's End" made in its day, but like I said I'll leave it to others to kill each other over that subject. However if there's one issue this album can't escape, it is that it suffers from the exact same illness as its more recent predecessor "The Question", namely that even for the developments in songs like "The Party Song", "The Movie Song" and "You Think You're Nickel Slick (But I Got Your Penny Change)" and for the pure displays of beauty in "From Crib To Coffin", "After The Devil Beats His Wife" and especially "Can't Stop The Killer", there's still that small handful of songs that's never going to pop into your mind and remind you of them. There's a present inconsistency that means that there's four or five songs you're never going to listen to unless you listened to one of the better ones first, and that is just a crack in the surface that obviously would keep any album from perfection.


Download: The Party Song, Can't Stop The Killer, After The Devil Beats His Wife, The Movie Song.
For the fans of: Dead Poetic, Saosin, Brand New
Listen: MySpace

Release Date 02.10.07
Tooth & Nail Records

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