Release Date: July 8
Label: Hopeless Records
Duration: 39 minutes
With their fourth album, “131,” Emarosa has shown that they are an incredibly strong band that, after multiple member changes, still manages to create powerful and catchy tunes with a very unique style.
Vocalist Bradley Walden joined Emarosa in 2013, replacing the band’s former vocalist, Jonny Craig. “131” is Walden’s second album with the band and it’s in this record that Walden truly comes into his own as the soulful and melodic vocalist that he is.
What immediately stands out in “131” is Walden’s wide range and ability to own songs with his powerful voice. Fittingly, the album starts out with Walden’s melodic voice alone building up to the moment when the guitar and drums pick up and Walden’s singing becomes more dynamic. This opener, “Hurt,” is a good sample of the melodic vocal/hard rock instrumental theme that the band was aiming for in the album.
The second track, “One Car Garage,” is a more straight-up rock song with hints of Walden’s melodic style spread throughout the song. Sporadic drums combined with Walden’s range and a subtle use of keyboard make this song unique where it might have felt dull in the hands of a less capable band.
This track is followed by “Sure,” which is where “131” starts to become something truly special. This song has elements of a softer, more pop-like sound in comparison to much of the rest of the album yet the emotion in Walden’s voice, a powerful chorus and hints of heavy power chords in the background make the song stand out. With this song, Emarosa proves that a rock band can create a pop-sounding song in a way that doesn’t betray who they are and in fact enhances the album by offering a different sound.
The following track, “Miracle,” while perhaps a bit repetitive, shows the strength of Walden’s vocals with a catchy chorus, but the two songs after, “Cloud 9” and “Helpless,” are where the album hits its highest point.
“Cloud 9” was the first single for the album and rightfully so, since it’s instantly catchy and has a great pace and structure. “Cloud 9” is the strongest song on the album, largely due to its strong bridge/chorus combination as well as interesting and unexpected changes like when the instruments stop and a chant of backup vocals take its place towards the end of the song.
Like “Cloud 9,” “Helpless” is a stand-out song that showcases some of Emarosa’s best songwriting to date. In “Helpless,” Walden’s voice reaches its peak of soulfulness, which is complimented in an interesting way by a heavy and sinister-sounding guitar riff. Both “Cloud 9” and “Helpless” feel like songs that could easily be played on the radio and help Emarosa reach a larger fan base, but at the same time neither feels like a betrayal of the band’s creativity.
While these two tracks might be the highest point, the rest of the album certainly doesn’t disappoint either. “Porcelain” is an emotional love song that starts out slow and soft and grows to have an impactful climax. “Never” and “Young Lonely” are another set of songs that combine Emarosa’s soft and heavy sides with Walden’s soulful and expressive wails providing the power needed to make the songs impactful. The album ends with “Re,” which is a five-minute closer that binds together portions of multiple songs on the album and serves as a satisfying send-off.
Overall, “131” is a fantastic album with standout vocals and an engaging and varied instrumental sound that makes for Emarosa’s best work yet.