How you feel about the newest Gatsbys American Dream record will likely depend on how you feel about emo in general. If you are like me, you've probably done your best to block out the whole genre. After all, its been about five years since bands like Thursday and AFI first began spilling their hearts all over the radio waves, flapping tear stained journals in the air to legions of fifteen year old girls. Before that, it was Sunny Day and Glassjaw and even before that, Rites of Spring. But those bands were cool right? Maybe. Nevertheless, It still leaves me to wonder when this curious phase of rock history will finally just slit its wrists already.
All this aside, Gatsbys American Dream plays the type of emo that I don't mind so much. In fact, I hesitate to call them truly emo, as their sound also incorporates a good deal of hardcore, prog rock, pop elements and foppish vocals... oh, wait, that's exactly what emo is. I guess, what I mean is that their music has never sounded staged or contrived to me. It comes from the heart. Oh god, not from the heart! Anyway, I'm not ashamed to admit that I've even been to a couple of their shows and they play really hard. They're not lame like the Lashes. I've seen few bands as in tune with their audience as these guys. I mean, their fanbase is seriously rabid - all foaming at the mouth and shit. In my opinion, they've done well for themselves despite playing in the shadows of local darlings Minus the Bear and Blood Brothers for years.
That said, let's get on to the review. The concept behind their fourth full length occurred to the band in its early stages of recording. It was decided that this would be their mission statement. Their defining moment. According to guitarist Ron Darling, "the music was written the way we want it to be rather than written with an audience in mind". That's strange to me because it sounds like these songs could actually appeal to a much wider audience then ever before. Could it be that there are other motives involved? Like record sales? Anyway, scrapping the experimental excess on their last record Volcano, they seem to have opted for a leaner, more accessible sound this time around, choosing to focus on their perilous rise to mediocrity and the evils often faced within the music biz.
Tales of shady booking agents, whoring their music for gas money and an ever present sense of futility provide plenty of fodder for their newest batch of songs. In addition to the complaining, much of what you would normally expect from a Gatsbys record can be found here. Big melodic hooks, shout along choruses and innovative guitar play sets the stage for their most mature sounding record to date. And by mature, I don't mean boring or anything, just well put together.
And yet all this scathing satire aimed at the music industry has got me thinking. How does a band like Gatsbys fit into the big picture? Will they come away smelling like roses in the grand scheme-o of emo? Will they be chewed up and spit out as interest inevitably wanes and topples under their self-indulgent weight? Most importantly, will they enjoy the ride or just bitch about it the whole time?
- Tyler Botts | 2006-10-06