Adapting to life. It’s tough, sometimes. You Blew It! love to expound on the fun stories of strength and survival using a harrowing 90s emo tapestry and they’re one of the reasons that there isn’t or ever was an emo-revival. Emo never died. ‘Keep Doing What You’re Doing’ is aptly titled because not only does it accomplish its mission as the band’s most complete, polished and near-flawless work to date, but it leads into fateful banter that’s likable and battering to fans of the genre at the same time. You Blew It! uses this record as a template to show how challenging life is, how archiving photos and memories may not be enough to make it last and just why you need to stop, take time and indulge in the beaths and brutality of its passion, hooting and hollering, along the way. This is a coming of age record, make no mistake, by a band that’s come of age already. The lessons learned are remarkable.
Tanner Jones commissions all his Orlando empathy to great effect on the mic. His gruff delivery offers a real-life and borderline throaty take that’s near-mandatory for fans of the band. “Match & Tinder” is their typical sound and built with a lovely energy. It’s clean, calm and melodramatic where it needs to be. The same applies for “Award Of The Year Award” which prides and stocks itself on heavier guitars but as a combo, both offer the dual effect that fans of The Promise Ring and Braid could appreciate. In Jones’ mini-wails and hurtling of angst-ridden lyrics, the melodic and cinematic vibe unfold smartly. It’s ideally what the theater of ‘Grow Up, Dude’ was built on years ago and it’s more than ample ground to sing along to.
It’s a good balancing act they follow when deciding to lull on the sound or follow a noisier course of action. They extrapolate different tones such as alternative and indie-punk and splice them neatly in but they always seem to be hinging on the protracted despair of emo, and are steeped in it more than I thought this record would be. The Jimmy Eat World-esque “Strong Island” is a bass-driven composition that’s evocative and dramatic. The flair-less attitude is rife with themes of adolescence and maturation which pan out in such an evocative fashion. The structure of these opening songs are like novels…musical portraits that are pivoting on hazy, twinkly guitars with loud sprawls here and there, indicative on “House Address”. This coherency makes each song feel like a valuable chapter and organic flow into the next which will no doubt pack seats or fill standing room in 2014.
The record feels like their biggest musical exposition yet and stylistically, it’s arranged and sounds as immaculate as they could have imagined. The spine of the album trickles off a bit but not in any adversely drowning manner. Sprinkled with beautiful distortion at various intersections, the album never pops off as too cheesy. It’s a record to make you take note and fall in love to…and with. It’s endearing to say the least. The accessible and pop-punkish “Gray Matter” glosses over a nice indie feel that doesn’t come off to crude or jarring. The levity and jeering pop sound is toned back a bit in most areas on the record and how well they attune this, is testament to the brainpower that went into the circuitry of the tracks. All planned, nothing done by guess or assumption. The production is super smooth and digestible.
“Better To Best” is a fitting conclusion to a great trip and a reason why you can vouch for this on your list come the end of the year and its top music outputs. The long, guitar-laced intro is so melodic and bursts into a heavier swath of guitars and ‘Whoa-ohs’…in a riveting finale. This climax comes off lush, well-rounded and clatters into you, even before the lyrics hit you as a confessional from Jones. It sums up the record as one that pierces life’s mysteries and proves nothing short of nostalgic or introspective. Throughout the smattering whirlwinds of emo-bands and amid the swirling vortexes of 90s rock, few bands can bring all the polarized emotions out in the way that You Blew It! does. This is a masterpiece and a major stroke of genius. Hats off! They didn’t blow it.