Emery has hardly ever been one of the worst bands of their kind, but it's hard for me to say they've been one of the better. After hearing their shaky debut, The Weak’s End, and its unassuming followup, 2005's The Question, I sort of took a hiatus from them and didn't bother checking out 2007's I'm Only a Man.
That brings us to their newest release, an EP of all-new material, While Broken Hearts Prevail. With my palette somewhat refreshed and unbiased, it seems the band is still employing a rather straightforward and not-too-outlandish version of the polarizing sing/scream thing. It's a pretty decent element of both, though, since the sung vocals continue to be full-bodied and on the lower end and the screams are razor-sharp. But when they layer them, shit is just not working, and the songs' usual musical backbone isn't dynamic or creative enough to take much notice.
Sometimes the EP really stretches this vocal dynamic beyond sensibility, though. Opener "The Smile, The Face"'s cleaner parts highly resemble Dashboard Confessional's more full-band and, erm, rocking moments (yeah, Chris Carrabba has 'em), but still has those cackling screams. The more balladic "Thoughtlife" sounds vaguely like a bad Panic at the Disco B-side (hey, a few songs on Pretty. Odd. are pretty decent).
The EP can have some okay stuff, musically, but can be really taken down by some simplistic, cornball girl-trouble lyrics ("Take, take, take, take back your promises / And those sweet kisses / That I thought were only for me" in "Say the Things (You Want)"). The more subtle nature in "Ten Talents" seems like a good medium for them, but goddammit: "Come home my dear because I love you. I love you still." Really? C'mon! You guys are like four releases in. You can do better than that.
I do have to give the band credit for excellent packaging. Periwinkle is a pretty inoffensive and warm color; the band provide an introductory note explaining the quick turnaround between this and I'm Only a Man; and there's some in-depth commentary (as well as full lyrics) on how the songs came together.
Overall, While Broken Hearts Prevail isn't bad at all -- it's just kind of mediocre. If you disagree, you were probably into their earlier stuff and will likely appreciate the lack of major change.
The Smile, The Face
Say the Things (You Want)
Do the Things (You Want)