When I say the word emo, you might think of variety of things from sad emotions to bands with cheesy outfits and overly dramatic lyrical content (unless you’re from the 80s in which…well not a lot changes but you get the point). Many think of the emo genre as this boxed in one trick pony but many forget that a little thing called Brand New were once the champions of the depressed and morose. That being said, it’s not the Long Island, NY legends I get to lament about today, but instead we’re heading over to Weymouth, MA for the Past Lives Described EP dropped by KIPSY this last month.
Now, we both know I’m not name dropping a more established band in the intro just for the sake of a cheap pop. KIPSY are without question attempting to live in the same realm as Brand New, but as far as Past Lives Described is depicting, they’re pretty strictly dancing on the shoe gaze end of the vast BN spectrum. Consistent ambient vibes, grunge era reminiscent riffages, steady and uninspired drum work, all tied together with angsty vocal homages to the mighty and painfully controversial Jesse Lacey in the form of very familiar note structures and vocal harmonies. From “Paw” to “Good,” it’s a challenge to discern the coming and going of each track on this effort. Some could say this is just means the album bleeds through itself seamlessly, where others, including myself, would lean more towards the idea that although this effort hits home on the sad vibes aspect, it horribly misses the mark in keeping the listener captivated. What sets KIPSY apart from its very obvious influence is the fact that Brand New have always had a knack for breaking free from itself (see “Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades” for any attempt arguments) and keeping from the ever-feared state of monotony in Emo, where KIPSY tends to lean into these traits.
It would be unfair to strictly attribute the lingering sense of monotony found on Past Lives Described to song writing as an attempt at a groovy interlude is very much attempted during opening track “Paw.” Where the real culprit lies is mostly definitely in the mixing and mastering quality. Ambient vibes and shoe gaze-esque environments are always a dangerous fire to play with if you’re not willing to level the tiny moving parts that make it enthralling and special. Where Past Lives Described falls the shortest is in the fact that all the bits and pieces blend too deeply into each other without giving the proper smoothing out of things like clear and legible guitar tones, moister drums, or proper prominence to the vocal section as it already dances on the line of soft and illegible (with exception to “Over My Head” attempting a more radio friendly, almost Dashboard Confessional approach at times).
All of this isn’t to say this is a bad record, it’s to say there are things to work on that would make it much goddamn better. This little emo kid loves all the attempts, even if they miss the mark. Hell, I even look forward to seeing what sort of wrist splitting tear jerker you pump out next. What this little emo kid fucking hates is having to stumble around to find anything about you on any given social media outlet in order to write a decent review about your record. A lesson to be remembered for all artists seeking a little bit of that Bucketlist love is always make yourself easy to find, because even if I do look forward to watching you flourish, I’m sure as hell not going to scour the reaches of the internet to find it.
Written by Jason Greenberg
*edited by Danielle Kenedy