Monday, August 20, 2012
The Dismemberment Plan -- Emergency and I
One late night near the end of 1999, I drove home from work through downtown New Roads feeling isolated and desperate. Suddenly, through the courtesy of my local college radio station, a song of isolation and desperation filled my White 1996 Ford Thunderbird. I will put my musical tastes as a 17-year old up against anyone's musical taste (Wait, should one be singular and one be plural? Also, you don't eat music. That expression is weird!) now, including my own . At nearly 18, I already liked and listened to a lot of good music, but with The Dismemberment Plan's "The City," I had finally found something with which I truly connected and identified.
"The City" is the ninth track on The Dismemberment Plan's magnum opus, Emergency and I. The best thing about Emergency and I, though, is that it is not all desolate pessimism. Sure, the apocalyptic "The Jitters" and "8 1/2 Minutes" are about as cynical as songs can get. This was released at the very end of the millenium. A lot of people thought the world was about to end, technologically, religiously, or both. According to one of the best movies from that year, it already had. At the same time, though, Emergency and I contains some pretty incredible feelings of optimism to counter this negativity. There's a brilliant sense of conflict between the benefit of being connected to the world and others versus being disconnected, as well as all sorts of other really great stuff that makes this album still stand out to a 30-year old...just as much as it did to a kid a few weeks away from 18 (should I put more dots? I feel like this sentence is never going to end...). Also, the music is really good.
No rock band's rhythm section has sounded better to me than the one on this album. Same thing with what the band does with the keyboard. The guitar playing sounds like a futuristic version of The Police if they had gone toward punk instead of chamber pop. Everything I've mentioned above can be found on this song below.
Travis Morrison's vocals and lyrics sound(s? Anyone read a grammar book? They don't teach that stuff in college.) like Travis Morrison. On one hand, he sings on key here instead of the "whatever note I please" style of past releases. On the other hand, he still ONLY sounds like Travis Morrison. This man should have been the voice of my generation. I'm not sure who the media will give that title to, but in my head, it will always be him.
With that said, Emergency and I has been one of my favorite albums for a long time (at least as far as my lifespan now measures). I thought I would write a lengthy review for it, but I feel like I've already written all that I've needed. Time for a big closing paragraph that makes some huge, controversial statement:
Because this is literally the music of my life, I am probably biased about its greatness. Then again, there is a reason people are still talking about, listening to, and connecting to Emergency and I thirteen years later, while much heralded, over-hyped tripe like Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion gets tossed aside for whatever the next big thing is just three years after its release. It isn't because of run on sentences (seriously, how many times did you have to read the previous one before it made any sense?). Emergency and I is a true classic.
1. A Life of Possibilities 4:34
2. Memory Machine 2:43
3.What Do You Want Me to Say? 4:18
4. Spider in the Snow 3:50
5. The Jitters 4:19
6 I Love a Magician 2:38
7. You Are Invited 4:52
8. Gyroscope 2:29
9. The City 4:26
10. Girl O'Clock 2:54
11. 8½ Minutes 2:57
12. Back and Forth 5:07