Emo’s (not) dead
Claire Lyons | Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Is emo dead, or am I just getting old?
As of last weekend, Pierce the Veil and Paramore are back on the Scene, baby! But as I listened to their new releases, I was wondering — should they be?
When Pierce the Veil and Paramore announced their upcoming albums, I was as excited as any former emo kid. I have pictures of myself in the bad eyeliner and band tees to prove it. I grew up jamming to the sick guitar on “Caraphernelia” and Hayley William’s powerful belts on “All I Wanted.” Something about the energetic production and screaming really “got” me. They were just some of the bands that could externalize my teen angst. The bands that got me out of my head. The bands that got me dancing or yelling in my Volvo. The bands that saved my life (in a way).
And sue me, I’m loyal. So, of course, I was going to listen to whatever Pierce the Veil and Paramore were releasing on Feb. 10.
Pierce the Veil was clearly reinvigorated in late 2022 by a a viral Tiktok trend that landed their 10-year-old hit, “King for a Day,” a No. 1 place on the hard rock charts. Inspired by the persevering love of their fans and their sudden launch back into pop-culture relevancy, the band got back in the recording studio to release their first album in nearly seven years.
“The Jaws of Life” has some bangers — the single “Pass the Nirvana,” the opener “Death of an Executioner” and a “Friday Night Lights” sample in “Resilience.” But overall, I was underwhelmed. The album lost some of the characteristic Spanish musical influences that made the San Diego-based punk band so unique. In “Shared Trauma,” they use a low-effort trap beat to back up some low-effort lyrics. (Insert former Interim Scene Editor scowl of disapproval.) Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with changing up your sound, but at least do it with some integrity. I’m not convinced that this is Pierce the Veil “at their most raw.” If so, “Collide with the Sky” must be a live animal, kicking and screaming.
Like Pierce the Veil, Paramore released “This Is Why” six years after their last album. No doubt, Tiktok has been inspiring Williams and bandmates to come back to the spotlight. The band is also touring for the first time in ages. Many fans had thought they had broken up.
“This Is Why” finds its footing in the latter half of the album with quiet and clean instrumental tones that bring all the attention to Williams’ gorgeous low-register crooning. It’s reminiscent of Williams’ solo career and Paramore’s early days a la “Brand New Eyes” circa 2009. The most popular songs, “This is Why” and “C’est Comme Ca,” sound juvenile in comparison. The new album is more true to old Paramore than “The Jaws of Life” is to old Pierce the Veil, but the political commentary in “This Is Why” is definitely shy of scathing.
We’ve been through a lot the past six or seven years. COVID-19. Black Lives Matter. January 6. Vic Fuentes of Pierce the Veil kicked his brother out of the band due to sexual assault allegations. Hayley Williams went through a divorce. I started college which is an incredibly minor event in comparison.
We’ve all grown up a little bit, and maybe, just maybe, I’ve grown out of my emo phase. If I want to get out my angst about society, I now listen to Cheekface. If I’m stressing about my love life, I listen to the sweet sounds of Ethel Cain. Tastes change. Bands evolve. And although I’m disappointed by the recent releases from Pierce the Veil and Paramore, emo as a whole is still killing it.