Joshua – Baggage EP

Baggage EP

Ah yes…the biggest problem surrounding emo today. Part three of my five-part series on Bad Emo and How to Avoid It regards the fact that most of the bands calling themselves emo are not emo. Emo stands for emotional hardcore, not simply emotional. I don’t care what genre your music is, if it’s not emotional, it sucks. You have to have passion in your music; you have to have passion for your music. If you don’t believe in your music, who else is going to? Therefore, every (good) band has emotion, but not every emotional band is an emo band. That brings us to the subject of this review. Is Joshua emo? Let me put it this way: most of Joshua’s songs either put a cheesy smile on my face or mellow me out. There is no way that these guys play emotional hardcore.

Although not emo (as so horribly claimed in the band’s biography), Joshua’s Baggage EP is a fairly good pop/rock EP. This band plays a harmless brand of rock that pushes no boundaries, but it is very nice ear candy while it lasts. Songs such as “A Better Place” and “Perfect Man” are just simple, catchy songs, solid from start to finish and with no frills. Each part is metered and measured, and while there isn’t much spontaneity felt in Joshua’s music, you definitely get the impression that the musicians know what they’re doing. The keyboards in “Perfect Man” were a little on the cheesy side, but then again, what pop/rock band hasn’t delved into the possibilities of cheap Casios?

“Repetition Forever” lets Joshua loosen up some, as the band delves into true rock. I guess this is where Joshua picked up the emo title: the song is dark, somewhat angsty, and much faster and more dangerous than the two pop/rockers. It’s not hardcore, but it’s some very good rock. The guitars were strong and well-written, the vocals were pitched well against the backdrop, and the melody was catchy. I was saddened to see that this was the only song resembling it on the album, as some truly fine moments were achieved on this song.

While the lack of rock saddened me, I was comforted by the fact that Joshua has thrown not one but two stellar acoustic songs into the mix. This is where Joshua really shines, as the guitars are complex, hooky, and much more interesting than any other instances of guitar on the EP. The vocals are both resonant and forlorn in both songs; set against the melancholy guitar lines, we have two candid snapshots of life. Both “What Love Requires” and “Make it Mine” are dramatic, emotive, and comforting: all the things a great mellow acoustic song should be.

Joshua is definitely not an emo band, but this is/was a very good pop/rock band (this is the band’s final EP before breaking up). While the sound is not as cohesive, engaging, or groundbreaking as some bands, Baggage is definitely worth the 20-minute length.