As admittedly tiresome as the seemingly never-ending string of new emo bands gets, it’s at least somewhat comforting that there’s usually a benchmark of quality adhered to. Unlike pop-punk or metalcore whose tropes have become so ubiquitous that rearranging them slightly each time leads absolutely nowhere, there usually tends to be some genuine passion and emotion in emo. Of course, that’s a slight elevation that doesn’t factor in overall quality, but on the whole, new bands don’t tend to be bad as much as uninspired or uninteresting. At least with a band like Decay though, they’ve come out ready to make a bigger statement on their debut EP, drawing from experiences of death and alcoholism that, in concept alone, is much richer with greater resonance than a lot of new bands tend to show in their opening hand.
And from Modern Conversation, it does seem like Decay have the sort of grasp on what can make emo great that’ll no doubt serve them well in the future. It’s just a shame that they’ve not quite nailed it themselves yet, and while they’ve got the rock-solid framework and ideas to really go places, there’s still development that needs to be done here. Right now, they’re drawing from a composite of sources that definitely has merit and, as far as modern emo goes, is pretty much the best jumping-off point to go from, but there’s nothing here that truly dazzles just yet, no matter how much Decay want to wear their confidence with this sound proudly.
Granted, it’s not hard to cut them some slack for a debut EP, and it’s not like there’s nothing of merit here at all. There’s a great sense of fluidity and rushing presence to the washed-out guitars of New Again and Slow Decline painted with the same shades that Basement have become so adept at using, and in terms of raw, uncompromised melody, Been Blue shows off a level of potential that could amount to something excellent with just a tad more inspiration. That’s really where the biggest shortcoming lies as well; for as good as Decay are at channelling emo’s modern stalwarts through every fibre of their being (save for Danny Reposar’s vocals, but even they’re more entrenched in the Britrock camp), there’s not a lot here that jumps off the page as being a factor distinct to Decay, and it can make for a listen that’s unfortunately easy to lose among a scene that can already be populated with soundalikes, both big and small. And when Decay have a lyrical focus that stands as so profoundly personal, it seems a shame for that to be overshadowed, especially with a track like Lullaby in which Reposar takes the decision to move on from trying to help his father overcome his alcoholism when he doesn’t even attempt to help himself. There’s turmoil in a theme like that that stacks on the layers of nuance with Decay good and early, building to an emotional climax that already sets the bar rather high in terms of where they go from here.
And that’s primarily why Modern Conversation frustrates as much as it does. There’s a potentially phenomenal band waiting to break out of Decay, but it’s locked beneath a new act playing it relatively safe to get their foot in the door when they’re already clearly capable of more. On the other hand, it’s hard to blame them for taking that route, but it would also be nicer to get a storming debut effort to set the stage for later releases that could really blow the doors down, rather than an easy first step leading to a gradual payoff. Again, it’s not like there’s anything necessarily wrong with that, and Decay have set themselves up to make some serious waves in the future, but don’t be surprised when subsequent releases ultimately end up leaving this debut lost in the shuffle.
For fans of: Basement, Title Fight, Balance And Composure
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Modern Conversation’ by Decay is out now on Fox Records.