When I was in high school, I really wanted to start a band that included a sweet synth keyboard a la The Anniversary, The Get-up Kids, and most other Midwest emo bands from the late ’90s. I didnt want to start an emo band necessarily, I just really loved that sound of the synth; that glorious Moog sound. I still have a soft spot for those bands, but I have lost a bit of desire to start a band in 2010 that makes music such as that. There are still some people who do want to make late ’90s sounding emo-ish rock like that (which I dont understand because I thought that genre/trend was over? I dont listen to the radio though, so maybe its still strong), but I have no interest in it.
The New Loud is one of those bands that are holding on to that sound and that synth with one hand and attempting to drag it into the new decade with the other. Thankfully they are doing it their own way and infusing a bit of present day into it, so it isnt totally unbearable but it also isnt something you can put on repeat. Their new album Measures Melt is full of earnest energy and enthusiasm, but some songs fall short and fall fast.
Weve introduced you to this Milwaukee band before, after the release of the Cant Stop Not Knowing EP earlier this year, and this debut full length continues the bands attempt at relevant dance-pop-Vagrant-emo blending. Lead singer and guitarist Shane Olivo does a good job of combining different genres to make some catchy danceable beats, but where I tuned out was the point that he tuned up, or auto-tuned up I should say. The New Loud employs a good deal of techno/Fruity Loops beats throughout their songs to fill out the trios sound, so the electronic sound is tolerable, but I, like Jay-Z, am kind of over the auto-tune vocoder. I really think Olivo could do perfectly well without the aid of the electronic filter, but he uses it far too many times over the course of the record. Songs like Secrets, All Ive Got, and the very Anniversary-sounding Heartattack suffer greatly from the reliance on electronic vocals. The electronic backing vocals in Heartattack of, if I move I might have a heartattack were especially grating. I think these could be solid songs if they just ignored their vocoder desire.
The band itself is tight on the record, and the songs are fairly well crafted with keyboardist Jessi Nakles and drummer Radish Beat (his credited name) rounding out their sound. Nakles is especially great on keyboards and backing vocals. Her vocals and screams in Better This Way are a definite highlight on the album. She has an almost Cedric Bixler quality on this song that took me off-guard in a good way. The song itself is a solid beginning-to-end highlight on an album of tracks that only have pockets of solid moments. The lead single “Don’t Dance” has a great punk energy and a Ting Tings sound that make a song I could see playing in a commercial or movie. That’s a good thing I promise. The songs I mentioned earlier that use the vocoder bring bands like Hellogoodbye and Owl City to mind, especially the harmony lead vocals on Secrets and Nakles’ vocals on Out of Control.
Overall the album is well crafted and well produced. It fits the modern ’90s emo revival aesthetic very well, so if you like Owl City, or any other band that still uses the synth, then youll probably dig this. The duds on the album are pretty big duds (Rubberman and Every Girl I See for instance), and the strongest songs (Better This Way and, to an extent, lead single Dont Dance) arent terrible, and definitely make my foot tap and hips shake. I hear good things about their live show, and you can definitely feel their enthusiasm, which I like. I can tell they would be a good time if I was 16 or 17 years old, and thats not a slight against them at all. They have awoken nostalgia in me, and I appreciate them for that. With a little growing, they could be a stronger success. I just feel they should ditch some of the electronica and embrace the power trio. And keep Nakles screaming. Love that.