Artist: Rocky Loves Emily
Album: Secrets Don’t Make Friends
Label: Tooth And Nail
If the biggest music related problem solved by the dawn of social media is the ability to discover and connect with new talent, the biggest issue it has created is helping those same artists hold your attention. Before we were all digitally intertwined, bands built relationships with fans through constant touring, fan mail, press, and most importantly, music. Now, music may pull new listeners in, but more often than not the music then takes a backseat to communication, branding, and pretty much everything related to the “identity” of a group, which in turn aides in further flooding the current alternative music landscape with mediocre talent who would otherwise find themselves seeking other interests.
So what is a new band to do? For Michigan’s Rocky Loves Emily, the answer was simple: Write better songs.
Coming off a modest reaction to their Tooth And Nail debut EP, the members of Rocky Loves Emily spent the better part of 2011 learning not just about the state of their scene, but about themselves. This is theoretical of course, as I am not in the band and only know them as well as any writer can know a group with a busy touring schedule, but having experienced their first full length it is evident that some clear realizations have been made. Where The American Dream EP showcased a young group boasting amateur hooks and good intentions of making an honest genre out of pop rock, Secrets Don’t Make Friends opens with a band grown into adulthood and wastes no time making good on their promise to again legitimize the scene.
There is no one song, or handful of songs that can summarize or truly encapsulate what makes Secrets Don’t Make Friends such a powerful record for RLE, though most of the songs sonically stand on their own with no issue. What makes this record great is something that must be experienced, again and again, with each repetition furthering affirming the enjoyment taken away from the previous spin. Rocky Love Emily have realized the commonality of themes and sounds in the pop genre, added to the mix a year spent growing up on the road, and damn near flawlessly designed an album that never has a dull moment. Even if a lyrical theme or percussion section feels a bit familiar, the other instrumentation and atmosphere surrounding that element is so completely unique to the world of RLE that you instantly forgive and move on. They shed everything that associated them with everyone else, tore every note from the book, and returned with a stronger focus than before. For lack of a better phrase, it’s guilt-free pop music.
This may come off as someone taking a light genre way too seriously, but these are young men in their twenties chasing a dream that only a handful ever achieve and that deserves respect regardless of genre. Especially in pop, which more than any genre can be pigeonholed for becoming repetitive, RLE are pushing themselves (and in doing so, the genre as a whole) to visit and revisit musical characteristics that much of the industry has begun to look past. You will not find dub waves, songs based on text phrases, or party anthems for drunken minors here, but you will find the most promising pop release of 2012.
Review written by: James Shotwell (Twitter)