One of the biggest complaints about emo – even in its broadest sense – is that it remains an exclusive boy’s club. Failed relationships and broken hearts are always down to callous females, with sweeping statements and broad brush strokes denigrating an entire group of people.
What’s refreshing about Sundressed’s long awaited debut, ‘A Little Less Put Together’, is just how even-handed it is when dealing with messy issues. Self-reflection looms large, yet it never feels like a blame exercise. Instead, mental strength and resilience underpin songs like ‘Autopilot’, (which also featured on Sundressed’s split single with Secret Stuff) making for a positive experience, even if vocalist Trevor Hedges finds himself working through Some Heavy Shit.
The strongest example of this progressive attitude can be seen in the standout ‘A Frankford Night’. It could have ended up like a spiteful Millennial take on The Format’s ‘Dog Problems’ – itself a thoroughly nasty song, which sees a failed relationship dissected in brutal, forensic detail. Yet there’s no blame apportioned, with Hedges focusing on the What Happens Next; sorting stuff out, finding a new home, living on his own – and making sure he gets the dog. It’s relatable and honest, but deftly dodges the misogynistic tag that has bugged emo/pop-punk.
This issue is even addressed on the stellar title track. “I’ve learned how to love from all the wrong songs,” sings Hedges, acknowledging the deep connection music and relationships can have. It’s also worth noting the positive theme of the song in question, which harks back to Hedges own battle with addiction and fighting his demons. It is powerful stuff, insightful and honest but inclusive, the message being “If I can do this, so can you.”
It’s a similar story throughout the other 9 songs on offer, and refreshingly, what could have been a mopefest is actually an empowering listen, taking critical self-analysis and finding the beacons of light on which to cling. It helps that it rocks too; if you’re a fan of the Get Up Kids (circa Something To Write Home About), Saves The Day or Motion City Soundtrack, then you’ll find lots to love on ‘A Little Less Put Together’.
‘A Little Less Put Together’ by Sundressed is released on 24th March on Animal Style Records.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)