As often as Emarosa are referenced when discussing other bands of their ilk like Hands Like Houses, they don’t seem to get much attention elsewhere, seemingly slinking back away from the spotlight. Perhaps that’s why their fourth album ‘131’ takes a more ambitious route.
It’s an album based on the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, the psychological phenomenon in which recently learned information manifests itself soon after. It’s a neat idea but the execution is a bit heavy-handed, boiled down to similar themes and lyrics popping up in different places across the album.
But when viewed as its own independent entity, ‘131’ is an incredibly solid album, one that’s polished to a mirror-like sheen but is a largely no frills affair. It helps that there’s a real anthemic feel to the whole album as well, in large parts thanks to frontman Bradley Walden whose ludicrously smooth vocals lends a soaring emotional edge to the likes of ‘Sure’ and especially ‘Helpless’, but one that avoids sounding mawkish.
It’s hardly revolutionary stuff, but Emarosa are incredibly good at what they do. The likes of ‘Cloud 9’ injected a much smoother veneer to straight-up rock that actually does a lost to galvanise it, and though it’s not too far removed from what similar acts like Hands Like Houses or Slaves (US) are doing, ‘131’ seems a fair bit more rudimentary in the best possible way. Beneath its shine this album feels largely organic, mostly doing away with electronic interference for an album whose only real contemporary trimmings come in its polish.
‘131’ certainly isn’t perfect, and there are a few questionable moments – wet piano ballad ‘Porcelain’ genuinely sounds like The Fray – but overall Emarosa’s fourth full-length is a slick, confident attempt at modern rock. It probably won’t sit as well with those who like their rock a bit more raw, but at the end of the day, Emarosa know their audience and this album will certainly appeal to that exact group of people. Perhaps now they’ll be able to rise from their position as also-rans into something a lot more complimentary.
‘131’ by Emarosa is out now on Hopeless Records
Words by Luke Nuttall (@nuttall_luke)