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Album Review - Emery “We Do What We Want”

Posted by Brian McFarland on 06/09 at 01:45 PM

Grade: A-

The first time I saw Emery live was on a hot summer night under a dark purple sky. They were finishing up the first night of the Purple Door music festival. It was one of the best performances I have ever seen. The stage was blacked out when, all of a sudden,  “Are you listening?” screams out of the speakers, piercing the dark void. Green and red beams burst forth lighting up the stage. Toby Morrell swung the microphone around like Don Quixote’s giant windmill monsters. He dove into the crowd like a fish out of water, singing the entire time. The band reappeared from the blackness, answering the call for an encore with ‘Walls.’ Guitars were thrown into the air, falling back in perfect rhythm as if on a string. It was electrifying. That was the moment I got hooked.

Emery is a four-piece melodic hardcore band stationed in Seattle, Washington. Originally from Rock Hill, South Carolina, the band is currently signed to both Tooth & Nail Records and Solid State Records. The band consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Morrell, lead guitarist and vocalist Matt Carter, percussionist Dave Powell, and keyboardist Josh Head. Emery’s latest album, We Do What We Want, was released on March 29. Though it’s been a couple of months since its release, it’s an album I feel compelled to review.

According to the band wanted the album We Do What We Want to be their hardest ever. This is most apparent in the opening song, ‘The Cheval Glass,’ when they hold nothing back. When I heard this track, excitement grew within me like that first night I saw them live. I couldn’t help but dance and jump around listening to it. The song opens with a short, melodic intro. From there, fans are immediately thrust into thundering guitars riffs that keep you on the edge of your seat. It continues with another keyboard-like synth with Morrell singing over top. The breakdown is one of the best on the album with Head’s keyboards screaming ferociously through the end of the song.

According to Morrell on, We Do What We Want tries to explore a number of themes such as trying to understand God and religion, as well as the tendency to be ‘god’ of your own life. These themes are apparent throughout the intensely deep lyrics across the entire album.

“Spent my nights just asking why would God let me become like this,” go the lines of the second stanza after the chorus of ‘I Never Got to See the West Coast.’ Then the song ends with the lines, “I feel just like you do. But when you’re by yourself you should know. One day we got to see the west coast.” The listener is left with hope. You are not alone, there are others out there struggling too, and one day you will find your salvation.  These are the kind of lyrics that really make this album special.

The one song that, “captures all of the elements of Emery, from the fragile and beautiful, to the epic and sonically thundering,” ( is ’The Curse of Perfect Days.’ The band really experiments with almost every type of singing, from overlaying background vocals, to switching between screaming and shouting. The instrumentals never cease to keep the listener guessing what’s next. The song flops solos, while matching and contrasting drum and guitar styles and sounds. It truly is the portrayal of the overall diversity of the album.

The album continuously switches tone all the way to the final tracks, ‘I Never Got to See the West Coast,’ and ‘Fix Me.’ Both take a 180, closing the album with a surprisingly slower pace than the rest of the album. The two slow songs follow along with the creativity and originality that Emery spans throughout all of their albums. In an interview with Penn State’s the Lion 90.7 fm, Morrell explains how the two final songs fit as being a good transition to their next album, one that they plan to make all acoustic. (It will be released later this year).

“And you find yourself just praying. For something more than this life. Something more than this life,” are the lyrics in The Curse of Perfect Days. The song goes on, “Even though I read the ending before the start, I would have never changed a single part.” Morrell eventually comes to the conclusion that despite the rough parts, there is no need to change a single decision in life. Live everyday as if it will be the best you ever had.

This album is definitely worth a listen

Emery is currently on a summer tour, and will be in Shirleysburg, Pa on July 2nd.

{name} Author: Brian McFarland
Bio: Brian McFarland is a senior print journalist major with a minor in English. He has a passion for all forms of original, creative music. In his spare time he likes to attend shows, play sports, read, and write. He loves the indie scene but still loves music of all genres and sounds. Favorite bands include Brand New, Emery, Thursday, and Blink 182.


Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
06/09 at 10:04 PM
Colorado Springs, CO

Hey Brian I really liked the review! I was curious if you’d be interested in doing a review of my band’s latest album. If you think you might be please email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Thanks!

Posted by John Chadwick
06/14 at 02:09 PM
State College

Great album.  Perfect Review.  Thanks for the heads up on when they’ll be in the area too!  I’m definitely trying to see them play this album live

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