In the mid to late nineties, there was an overwhelming flood of new bands practicing the musical style known as emo. At that point, the three-letter term covered a much wider range of rock groups. Bands that would now be neatly separated into sub-categories like shoegaze, math-rock, or post-punk were openly embraced by all that considered themselves emo fans. Ironically enough, many of the bands that now pass for emo would have been quickly dismissed as pop-punk or alternative rock. But, a decade ago, emo was characterized more by the level of conviction with which the music was performed than the appearance of its performers. Certain bands of that period openly straddled the line between mope-heavy melody and angular experimentation. Gamenight sound like any number of bands that would have fit this description. While leaning a bit more to the melodious side, Simple Starts in the Mind has definite post-punk roots.
Initially, the most attractive aspect of the album lies in the delivery. Unlike the highly stylized, overly dramatic emo of this decade, Gamenight offer a reflective and relaxed version of what has ultimately become a redundant sub-genre. When Joshua Manis sings, he sounds like the emo kids I used to know. His words are pensive and his delivery is understated. The band as a whole play with a charming modesty, as if they are content with dangling their feet over the side of the pool while the other bands haphazardly leap from the high-dive. Off-time tempos and intricate guitar melodies flow almost effortlessly, gently cradled by the simple honesty of each performance. While never straying from the basic emo/post-punk blueprint, Simple Starts in the Mind evokes the spirit of a time when I was still wide-eyed and eager to find music that could encompass the angst and confusion that comes with young adulthood.
Before I get too caught up in my "those were the days" perspective, it is necessary to point out that Gamenight still fall victim to the limitations of their chosen field. While it has a definite nostalgic quality, the music is often sentimental to the point of irrelevance. Instead of pumping new blood into an old formula, Gamenight have essentially chosen to exist as a faceless entity. Of course, this is not entirely their fault. There is little room for honesty in a genre that has basically become an uninspired reproduction of itself.
7.0 / 10
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