Reviews Emily's Army Don't Be A Dick

Emily's Army

Don't Be A Dick

It would be hard for Emily’s Army to disassociate from their bloodlines: Don’t Be a Dick is produced by Billie Joe Armstrong, shares a similarity in layout, art, and font to Green Day and the record itself is on Adeline. Yes, this is the debut from the California band featuring Joey Armstrong on drums (son of the Green Day frontman). Having that out of the way early, Emily’s Army is their own band and need to be addressed as such. As the packaging and names mentioned earlier indicate, Emily’s Army falls pretty strictly into the pop punk category—more on the snotty, Brit-influenced, bouncy variety than Midwest gruffness or Ramones-clone types.

Emily’s Army jumps straight into the fire with “Broadcast This,” about lacking radio options. The name is far more confrontational than the music, which has a tempered, melodic flow that dominates over the blunt subject matter. The majority of the record follows this style: topical, sociopolitical issues with a direct point of view on each, with power chord heavy pop, defined by its hooks, breakdowns, and lyrical melodies. While the Green Day association is already planted in my head, there is a lot of said band’s influence (especially the earlier stuff) in Emily’s Army’s sound. Singer Max Becker has a distinct enunciation that is influenced by the elder Armstrong. The band uses a lot of backing, group vocals at the chorus level but, mostly, Becker’s voice carries the vocal identity.

Lyrically, the songs aim to pack a punch and elicit thought on issues ranging from radio to athletes, video gaming and cultural issues, and Cystic Fibrosis (the band chose the name Emily’s Army in tribute a cousin diagnosed with the disease). There is definitely a juvenile directness in the lyricism: the topics are rather one-sided and tend to “tell it like it is” rather than exploring the depths of the issues—but this is pop punk, not a dissertation. When, in “Ass-lete,” the song takes a turn from listing the real life indiscretions of figures like Tiger Woods and Barry Bonds into the hyperbole of “running over kids in your fancy car” it may be laughable, but it’s also maintaining the upbeat nature of the song instead of bogging it down with a weighty topic. The lyrics, as a whole, aren’t a strength, but they don’t detract hugely either. Becker inflects a lot of emotion with his voice and the band’s breakdowns and occasional backbeats mix things up to provide a steady but varied energy from start to finish. The major faults with Don’t Be a Dick are that the songs sometimes stumble, feeling a bit robotic and repetitive, relying on Becker’s vocals to carry the melody while the chords get repetitive. They’re at their best with the breakdowns in “West Coast,” “Regan Mcneil,” and “I Wanna Be Remembered,” while they seem to falter and lose a step midway through “Broadcast This” and the questionably titled “Statutory Brainrape.”

While it’s far from a perfect record, Don’t Be a Dick has enjoyable moments and some of the songs, like “Ass-lete” have a melody that sticks with you long after spinning the disc. For a band so young, there’s definite potential, not to mention the way the record has me recalling the bands I knew in high school in a fond light.

6.0 / 10Loren
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