Biology - Making Moves (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Making Moves (2005)


The insufficiently named "emo" genre seems to have diversified so much that it makes little sense to think of it as a single style anymore. Like ska and punk, it's reached the point where you definitely see it as being part of several distinct subgenres.

The progenitor of the genre is certainly typified by the early Dischord acts: Rites of Spring, Embrace and even Jawbox. It was hardcore, just inward focused. The second "wave" of sorts would be that which was nearly monopolized by Revelation in the 90s: Emotional post-hardcore bands like Texas Is the Reason and Elliott, but also bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and the Promise Ring. The third wave is where we find most of the newer bands; it's a hastily grouped crowd of misnamed indie rock, screamo and acoustic music.

In the case of Biology, you find a member of the third wave aiming to pay tribute to the second. From Autumn to Ashes co-vocalist/drummer Francis Mark saw his current band as being an inappropriate place for some of the songs he was writing, so he enlisted the aid of a bandmate, a former member of Engine Down and producer Brian McTernan in order to produce Making Moves.

In that sense, Making Moves is a real success; the album successfully channels the sound and energy of that much loved subgenre infusing it with some modern touches. What is most striking about the album is how restrained it is; unlike his other band's prominent breakdowns and freakouts, Mark endows Biology with an understanding of the importance of "quiet."

Mark, a vocalist who has his share of detractors and seems cursed with the archetypical nü-emo voice, stretches himself a little and is actually deserving of quite a bit of acclaim for his nuanced performance. Instead of the (intentional) melodrama that defined The Fiction We Live and Abandon Your Friends, the lyrics and vocals are brooding, mature and refreshing.

His bandmates turn in equally respectable performances; former Engine Down drummer Cornbread Compton is vivid on the drums, anchoring the band with a powerful rhythm section. The guitars invoke the expanse of Revelation emo acts, with a touch of Quicksand thrown in, and McTernan manages to ably condense the tone of the band into a coherent mix.

Making Moves is a challenging and interesting album, a solid package of worthy songs which are confident enough to avoiding needing to bang you over the head with a hook or breakdown. It's not groundbreaking, as it's certainly retreading the territory of those second wave bands, but it's done with enough reverence and creativity to stand on its own.