Written by: TL on 31/08/2010 22:28:26

Since his name grew into the awareness of the scene, there has been a looooot of online discussion about the alledged douchebaggyness of one Jonny Craig, ex-singer of Dance Gavin Dance-turned singer of Emarosa-turned singer of both and solo artist. The mere fact that a review of an Emarosa release starts like this, should be enough to make fans of democratic-type bands suspect that someone is getting too much attention, but let's just face it: Emarosa is the Jonny Craig show, and whatever the man is like in person, it's hard not to hear why. Craig's been known in the scene for three years, and already there are more singers out there trying to ape what he does than I can count on my own two hands, and yet he still resides in the upper echelons of vocalists, I can only think of Dallas and Anthony Green (no relation) who perform on or above his par.

Musically, Emarosa as a band took a supporting role behind Craig on their first album together, 2008's "Relativity", and I'm going to go ahead and say that the same is the case with their new offering, merely titled "Emarosa". Where most bands that get compared to them, operate with a dynamic change of focus between guitars, screams and cleans, Emarosa commit openly to their self-proclaimed pop/r'n'b label by restraining all instruments to providing foundation for Craig's singing. Of course, it's not like you can't hear the band's post-hardcore origins, oh no, they're plain to notice, but be it by way of either composition or production, Craig is, at every turn, the thing you hear above all.

So yeah, in that aspect, "Emarosa" is kin to "Relativity", but you can also hear progression, mainly in how the songs here are more dynamically tuned between the restrained and the intense, as opposed to the older ones, which mostly came roaring out the gate, courtesy of a proper "we've got something to prove" sort of debút. The effect, I find, is that the tracks are actually more consistently memorable than last time around, however, this comes at the cost of the highlights not being quite as shiny. By now (a little under ten listens I think) I can sing along to parts of most songs, but there aren't as many that raise the hairs on my back.

Regardless, since Craig commands so much attention, it becomes interesting to ask if this is justified. One one hand yes, because, let me be honest, this man's voice is so good, I'd probably be okay with listening to him singing "laaaaa-laaa-laaaaa" for an entire album. On the other, you do however get the feeling that he has room for improvement as a lyricist, with many odd parts sticking out as a bit simple or melodramatic, though I must admit, I'm not judging from the big picture here. Mainly because I think that if there's one fault in Craig's singing, it's that his articulation gets a bit blurry on many occasions, as he concentrates more on varying the intesity in his croon, than in mouthing the words as sharp as the very best.

All in all, I'd say "Emarosa" is actually better than many haters and critics have made it out to be, since I admit that I enjoy it quite a bit. I do recognize how ever, that the constant focus on Craig, and lack of true instrumental highlighs as well as general versatility, are things that still keep Emarosa knocking on the door of the big leagues. This would make me inclined to leave the band stranded on mere seven, but then again... Did I mention I'd be quite fine listening to Craig singing "blaa blaa blaa"? I guess if pretty singing isn't something you particularly enjoy about rock, then you could shave some points off, but man, do I think you're missing out then.

Download: Broken Vs The Way We Were Born, A Toast To Future Kids
For The Fans Of: Jonny Craig, Circa Survive, Sleeping With Sirens, Broadway, if Savage Garden were post-hardcore
Listen: myspace.com/emarosa

Release Date 05.07.2010
Rise Records

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