After years relegated to the punchline to to bangs and LiveJournal jokes, emo might finally regain the respect it rightly deserves. Ignoring the mascara-smeared stylings of platinum punks like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance, a new generation of bands have picked up the torch of the genre’s post-hardcore '90s-heyday.
Most surprisingly, these artists aren’t afraid to label themselves as “emo,” something acts like Sunny Day Real Estate, American Football and the Promise Ring avoided throughout their short careers. Some have even embraced the term “twinkle daddies” a former pejorative that references the twinkling guitar notes that are a hallmark of this music.
Whatever you call it, the groundswell of artists making waves in the underground suggest it’s only a matter of time until someone breaks out of the scene and into the larger musical consciousness. With that in mind, we handicap the chances of wider success for five of emo’s brightest new lights.
Contender: Into It. Over It.
Into It. Over It. is Evan Weiss’s one man-band. Although his albums consist of intricate arrangements with full instrumentation, Weiss hits the road solo, presenting his music on acoustic guitar, encouraging audiences to sing along. Dashboard Confessional comparisons are inevitable and frequent.
Odds: 2 to 1
Why it could happen: Weiss has natural everyman charisma and is currently the scene’s most visible figure. His new album, Intersections, is one of the most fully realized emo records in years. Plus it’s far more likely a solo artist will become a star than a full band.
What’s holding them back: The first band out of the gate rarely gets the brass ring and despite his embrace of the emo label, Weiss appears as dedicated to “the scene” as he is reaching new audiences, impulses that are often contradictory.
Contender: Their / They’re / There
Odds: 3 to 1
Why it could happen: The combined name recognition of Weiss and Kinsella alone has propelled the band to heights unimaginable just a couple of years ago. That the band’s music lives up to the hype created by the personalities involved is a pleasant bonus.
What’s holding them back: the very thing that attracts fans to the band – its members’ pedigree – could also be its undoing. Their/They’re/There is a side-project to these guys’ day jobs and its unclear how much time they’re each willing to devote to the project. Perhaps tellingly, they have yet to issue a full-length album.
Contender: The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die
With songs as sprawling as their name, Connecticut’s The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die mix their twinkle with a healthy dose of epic post-rock, with all the appropriate raves ups and breakdowns. This is emo writ large.
Odds: 5 to 1
Why it could happen: No emo band presents music as ambitious and sprawling in its grandeur as TWISABP. And critics are taking note; their most recent release, Whenever, If Ever has received positive notices in all the appropriate cool kid publications.
What’s holding them back: Ambition has never been a hallmark wider audiences are looking for. While TWISABP is building a fervent fan base, it’s more likely that the band will evolve into a popular cult act existing outside of the emo sphere.
Contender: Touché Amoré
One of the most aggressive bands currently lumped into the revival, many would sooner classify the Los Angeles group as post-hardcore than emo. But there’s no denying the influence of Jawbox and Jawbreaker on the band’s sound.
Odds: 10 to 1
Why it could happen: Touché Amoré built their name outside of the media-invented emo revival tag. As such, they’re in a unique position to benefit from the hype yet they stand apart and could easily distance themselves from the scene when the backlash inevitably happens.
What’s holding them back: Putting “post” in front of any genre descriptor is a polite way of saying “too complex for the average music fan.” The aggressive nature of singer Jeremy Bolm’s throaty scream is as likely to turn away potential fans as it is to bring new ones into the fold.
Contender: Everything Everywhere
The Philadelphia group mix equal parts '90s emo and indie rock to achieve a quintessentially Midwest sound.
Odds: 50 to 1
Why it could happen: The band’s self-titled debut helped codify the sound of the emo revival.
What’s holding them back: Like so many of their '90s heroes, Everyone Everywhere felt boxed in by emo’s musical parameters. Their 2012 follow-up, also self-titled, abandoned their previous sound, much to the chagrin of fans that had championed their debut, a hard blow to recover from. Just ask the Get Up Kids.