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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Promise Ring
Very Emergency
Jade Tree Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Some things, after a point, get so blown up and so removed from the situation in which they are supposed to play a part that nothing positive can come of it. The latest installment in the Star Wars series is a good example. All the hype, all the biz buzz surrounding the film served to pump the public's expectations to a limit far exceeding the actual reward anyone could have gotten from such a boring and foul made film. Star Wars got too big for its preverbial britches and the critics had no choice but to lambast it for what it was - crap.

With the anticipated third full length from Milwaukee's Promise Ring, that is not the case. Sure, they've been hyped by everyone from Seventeen to Matt Pinfield. Sure, the Ring is now at a point, in terms of success, above and beyond 99% of their peers. Who fucking cares. The Promise Ring got big.

The first glaring characteristic of this album is the obvious completion of the Ring's transformation from a driving ball of post punk energy to a full blown, fully tweaked pop rock outfit. This transformation has been in progress since day one, however, and any jackass who writes them off now is a fool. From "E Texas Ave" to "The Heart of a Broken Story" to "B is for Bethlehem" there has been an obvious progression away from dynamics in the direction of power pop song structures and chord progressions. This isn't news, especially with a forewarning like the Boys & Girls EP. The Promise Ring got big and now they got happy.

From the opening line of "I got my body and my mind on the same page honey and now happiness is all the rage" there is an overwhelming feel of sunshine and Raisinettes to this record. At the same time that these songs are blatantly Promise Ring songs, there really isn't any semblance of what we know the Promise Ring to be. Perhaps the most driving moment comes during the chorus of "Emergency! Emergency!" which is in itself a far cry from the days of "Everywhere In Denver." "Living Around" sounds like a Fountains of Wayne song but still has a bit of that characteristic Promise Ring punch to it.

You may (or may not) have noticed that the word "energy" - a word often times synonymous with the Promise Ring - appears nowhere in this review until now. That's because energy is a tricky thing to understand. There is obvious energy in a song like "A Picture Postcard" but at the same time there is a definite energy in "Happy Hour." The only difference is that instead of a "young poet torn by love and traveling" energy there is a "my life is good and everything is okay" energy.

Every record has a failing point and I will say that I miss von Bohlen's poetic quality, which has been totally abandoned in favor of pure pop craftsmanship and word play. But songs like "Jersey Shore" allow me to forget about it and just enjoy the chemistry that the Promise Ring has, something truly rare.

While not my favorite version of the Ring, Very Emergency is a well crafted, well played, well recorded pop record, which is exactly what they were aiming for.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth



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