We Are The Emergency - Whispers & Fragments
Record Label: Independent
Release Date: May 8, 2010
Australia’s music scene is the one to watch right now, with several well-established and up and coming bands with incredible talent who are reshaping the melodic rock/post-hardcore scene one release at a time. Not too long ago, however, one wouldn’t have thought We Are The Emergency to be one of them. 2009’s release of Seizures was particularly underwhelming, featuring noticeably muddy production and the same mediocre formula of standardized heavy guitar melodies and high-pitched unclean vocals that American scene bands are infamous for. Fortunately for everyone, 2010 brought a new season of change to We Are The Emergency’s sound. Allow me to introduce to you one of the most overlooked and unappreciated “scene” releases of recent times, the vibrant masterpiece named Whispers & Fragments.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of talented and complementary multiple vocalists. For those of you who share this sentiment, We Are The Emergency are a dream come true, packing a triple-threat in their lineup ready and waiting to blow you away. First, their keyboardist Sophie Rodgers hits soft and soothing heights comparable to Mindy White’s contribution in Lydia. Second, Ryan Lake, the group’s co-lead vocalist, possesses similar range and intonation to Built on Secrets’ Eli Menezes, while simultaneously packing very strong screaming abilities that are nearly identical in sound to Anthony Green’s screams in early Saosin. Lastly, guitarist and co-lead vocalist James Harris, my personal favorite of the three, has a lower baritone range that produces a unique richness and depth that I haven’t encountered in other vocalists. All throughout the album the three singers climb and soar along catchy and expansive vocal melodies, constantly matching and overlapping one another into a tidal wave of harmonic beauty. If you’ve been listening to this album as you read, I have no doubt that you’ve realized there is something everyone can sing along to on this album, and that all three of the vocalists are indispensible.
Although the band’s musical techniques aren’t particularly innovative when examined individually, it’s the way they’re combined that sets this album so far apart. In Adam Young’s words, We Are The Emergency have chosen to live in “a world of dreams and reverie”, creating a feeling of surreal mysticism for the album’s entirety. They take the ambient guitar work made famous by Circa Survive’s On Letting Go and achieve mastery with it, while simultaneously giving it a facelift and complete personality change from dark and dreary to light as air. There are also some catchier Abandon Kansas-esque groove sections. The drums take a less aggressive path than the one We Are The Emergency’s post-hardcore counterparts travel, opting for more cymbals and slower tempos.
We Are The Emergency have arguably an even more impressive arsenal of small arms with their ambient and accentuating instrumentation. I’ll be honest here and admit that I’m known to praise bands for their creative uses of electronic effects, but in the case of Whispers & Fragments there is a never-ending cornucopia of sheer brilliance in this respect. Not only that, although they are a somewhat common feature, I have never encountered another experimental pop-rock band use complimentary keys this well. The times where the listener encounters strings, xylophones, and hand-claps, best exemplified in “When Everything Is Done”, are impeccably placed and executed. It’s an astounding medley to take in. The lyrics on the album are quite adept, with lines such as: We’re on the edges of these sinking walls. / One makes hate. One not enough. / We’re hunting witches and it’s tearing me apart / and I would like to say we could show it up. There is a lot of depth to be experienced with them, although the amazing melodies that carry them can cause the listener to forget about them, if only for an instant.
Some time ago I became aware that We Are The Emergency lost their guitarist and vocalist, James Harris. Thankfully they have picked up a new guitarist, Matthew Dewson, but I have no idea how this will affect their songwriting in the future. I can only hope they will continue making natural fine-tuned progression from this impressive work of art that shoved its way through my top ten last year. Nevertheless, I have faith in them. They’ll undoubtedly create something good, and possibly something even better. Only time will tell.