The Emily Rock Group – Pop and Fade

The Emily Rock Group
Pop and Fade

The Emily Rock Group is no longer. Pop and Fade, recorded and mixed in Bedford, Ohio over the course of one and a half years, serves as the band’s grand finale, as they disbanded once it was released. The band was created in Binghamton, N.Y. [your humble editor’s hometown – ed.] in 1994, but relocated to Cleveland, Ohio in 1998. After playing handful of shows at local venues, live performances were put on what would turn out to be a permanent hold when recording of this disc began in 2000. With the album, the band tries to cover a lot of ground, and it often feels like they are trying to do too much. Attempts at innovation are sometimes pulled off nicely, but more frequently they fall short of breaking any new ground.
Pop and Fade seems like an appropriate title for an album that starts off in an exciting fashion and then just kind of whithers away and ends, kind of like The Emily Rock Group itself. The opening “Mike’s Theme” is a well-produced, dark number that starts with just bass guitar and vocals but soon erupts into a grungy number that builds up your hopes for the rest of the album. However, “Borrow Yer Car” quickly dashes those hopes, sounding a little like the Violent Femmes on speed, only not nearly as interesting as that sounds. The garagey “Nubia” gets a little better, but not enough to make up for its predecessor. “Like Water You Press” is a slow, quiet, acoustic-tinged number, and this is the first song on the album to live up to the potential that the opening track leads you to believe is there. “Backline Bucket” finally finds a middle ground between weird and good, but it only lasts just over one minute. Then come the dark and creepy “Action Klaxon,” the punky “Pugilista,” and the slow and droning “Black Ark,” none of which evoke any real interest or intelligent thought. The best part of the three is the instrumental outro to “Black Ark,” which gently bleeds into “Diamonds On Your Eyes,” which has just a touch of honky-tonk to it and is one of the better moments on the album, but it is again cut to less than two minutes in length. Finally, “That Goddamn Chevy Nova” closes things out with a furious pace and intriguing song structure, ending the album with the sound of squealing guitar feedback.
The music of Pop and Fade isn’t extremely complicated, and it is difficult to say whether the lyrics are genius or idiotic. “Had a plastic doll that looked like you / Painted-on freckles and her hair punched through hair was as blue as a public pool / Learned how to masturbate with that toy / Know what you got when the boy got joy / Locked in my room jerkin’ back and forth,” goes “Black Ark,” as just one of many lines that will make you stop and wonder. Overall, there are some hidden gems here, like “Mike’s Theme,” “Like Water You Press,” and “That Goddamn Chevy Nova.” Others, like “Backline Bucket” and “Diamonds On Your Eyes,” have potential but are beheaded before they get a chance to impress the listener. The disc ends up worthy of a listen or two, but like The Emily Rock Group itself, Pop and Fade ends without making too deep of an impression.