By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
You should know that Sunday's Best has ruined emo. I tell you this because they won't. They'll probably tell you that they're sensitive young men who've had their hearts bruised by feminine wiles--a couple of times, actually--but they'll leave out the part where they use the same bruised hearts to pick up new females.That's why--or how, rather; why they've done it speaks for itself--they've ruined it: they've turned something only subtextually (or at least subtly) about sex into something mostly about sex. It's the danger in giving straight boys big guitars: Girls like it. And boys like that. Which leaves us with Poised to Break, the band's new come-on of a record. It's great--made of shiny, exceptionally tuneful punk-leaning pop, as though Duran Duran had grown up in Berkeley attending shows at Gilman Street, instead of in Birmingham doing lines off models' midriffs. Boiling down influences is the band's trump card, and they're at their best when they're up-front about ripping them off: "The Hardest Part," the album's first song, gets started by cribbing--note for note--the vocal hook of "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic." It's a bold move, and one that works: You're nodding your head before you can tell yourself not to.
But as splendid--and I mean that in the least direct way possible--as this stuff is, you can't get past The Problem. The band's aim is just all too clear, from the packaging's photography--someone forgot to tell them you can't include a picture of yourself smoking--to the lyrics, which tell a tale of little black books as deep as Sunny Day Real Estate's evangelical fervor. Don't believe it? I defer to singer Edward Reyes: "Was that the day that I was seen/Kissing your friend on 3rd Street/I never thought that I was mean/How could I have not seen?"
Maybe I'm just being uptight, though. Maybe emo wasn't built to last anyhow--better it be taken over by horny twentysomethings than by horny thirtysomethings, right? And better they make good Police mock-ups than bad AC/DC ones, yeah?
Perhaps, but until I'm convinced that Sunday's Best aren't in it solely for the, uh, fringe benefits, I'll be rocking tonight with an angel on one shoulder and a big fat devil on the other.