It’s not so much a prerequisite as it is a statement of ‘water is wet’-level obviousness, but there needs to be a decent level of emotion in any good emo release. The balance between it and a keen ear for melody is something that a lot of bands in the recent emo revival seem to have gotten the hang of, and subsequently formed the benchmark for the genre as a whole. For Across All Oceans on their sophomore EP Homegrown, though, the scales tip a bit too frequently to have as much of an impact.
It’s mainly in the vocal department where the issue is the most noticeable, with Andrew Thomson seemingly fluctuating between all of the emotions at once to none of them. It makes for a fairly disorienting listen, given such a jarring shift in styles. Permanence seems very flat and one-paced throughout, with any amount of feeling that was supposed to be conveyed failing to break through the surface. Conversely, Monophobia sees Thomson adopting a far more gritty growl, but it has a tendency to go overboard, straying deep into hardcore territory and winds up with him sounding like he should be fronting a band like Touché Amoré than any band like this.
It’s the actual music that’s the saving grace of Homegrown. It’s your standard emo / pop-punk fare, but it adds a sprinkle of much-needed gusto, especially in the slower songs. But even with that, they themselves feel needlessly truncated (only one of the five tracks breaks the three minute mark), and it sounds slightly shoddy and even unfinished at times.
The final track Eston Square is when things finally begin to click – it’s short, but it at last manages to get a catchy vocal line that fits spot on with the instrumental behind it. It’s a shame that it’s the only real instance on Homegrown that’s really worth revisiting, because there are some nice ideas here that could just do with some better execution. There’s the kernel of a decent band inside Across All Oceans, but a lot of work needs to be done before it can break out.
For fans of: Moose Blood, Taking Back Sunday, Pianos Become The Teeth
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Homegrown’ by Across All Oceans is released on 22nd February.