Songs to Drive To; Cry, And Make Love To is a god-awful album name. I’ll throw that out there immediately. Fuck that title. But, somehow, almost brilliantly, it single handedly represents the emo genre and all of its cliches in totality. The heart-on-your-sleeve emotion, romanticization, all wrapped up in literary minded pretentiousness. It’s a wonder why the genre never found a larger audience. But, that being said, the owners of that horrendous string of words, Courtesy Drop, have written a fine album to back it up.
Drawing upon Jawbreaker, Sunny Day Real Estate, and most importantly Texas is the Reason, Courtesy Drop play jangly emo with dynamic, sometimes mathy instrumentation accompanied by plaintive vocals. It’s sharp music written by people with a clear love and understanding of the genre that doesn’t feel like a cynical attempt at revival. It’s organic, almost sounding like a lost band from the same era it emulates.
The album opens with the undulating and epically titled “History Will Remember Our Generation As A Shining Example Of How Not To Exist.” Again, Courtesy Drop aren’t the best at slapping names on their work. But, its a great song filled with quiet angst and beautifully distant instrumentation that explodes into something loud and plainly emotional. “Goodbye, Fairlane Drive” is a track driven by big riffs and melodic fretwork, and while it is unmistakably more aggressive than its counterparts, it also has a sense of dynamics working within it, as characterized by its slowed down ending. What makes Courtesy Drop so successful is their ability to craft emotional music that is also interesting, putting them leagues above other less musically adept bands.
“Stranger Than Friction” is brimming with so much energy, it almost sounds like a straight up punk song. Courtesy Drop continually let loose and reign it in, chugging chords driving the track with a distinct thrashiness. It’s the sound of chaos– the sound of unleashing and projecting everything you’ve got on your instrument. Album ender, “Superbook” carries with it a similar feeling, punctuating its vocals with loud distorted guitars. The song builds to a powerful, enveloping crescendo that overwhelms the listener in a sea of melodic fretwork and loud, beating drums. When it reaches its peak and finally subsides, the tension breaks with a feeling of peace.
Songs to Drive To; Cry, And Make Love To is probably the best emo release I’ve heard in recent years. Sure, a lot of there titling is pretty silly (and the call out to Avengers character Phil Coulson is a little cringe inducing), but the fact remains that Courtesy Drop are immensely talented. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them gather a fanbase and become the scene’s next Title Fight. While so much of today’s emo is cloying melodrama, not to mention a pale shadow of the genres musically innovative and exciting roots, Courtesy Drop are one of the few bands to actually ‘get it.’ For fans, Songs to Drive To; Cry, And Make Love To will be a reminder of how great the perpetually mistreated genre can be, not to mention an instant classic.