It’s Consequence’s 15th anniversary, and all September long we’ll be publishing a series of retrospective pieces encompassing our publication’s own history — and the entertainment landscape in general. Today, Associate Editor Abby Jones runs down the best emo albums of the last 15 years.
Emo was in a weird place 15 years ago. In 2007, rock’s most misunderstood subgenre was on the brink of a total overhaul — sentimental pop-punk bands like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance had already released their most career-defining projects, bringing a close to what we now know as third-wave emo and clearing the path for something new in its wake.
Around the time Consequence was founded, fourth-wave emo — a.k.a. the emo revival — came in swinging, twinkly guitars and all. In a lot of ways, the subgenre was going back to its roots; this new crop of impassioned indie rockers sounded like Sunny Day Real Estate, proclaimed their love for Rites of Spring, and openly admitted to ripping off Cap’n Jazz. By the early 2010s, the emo revival had fully taken over.
You could argue that emo is in an even weirder place now. It’s no longer rare for blogs and forums that once detested the genre (yes, we’re probably guilty, too) to now praise it. Many would say we’re now well into emo’s fifth wave, although plenty of revival-era acts are still adding onto their already-prolific discographies with no signs of slowing down. Bands who have been broken up for less than a decade can announce reunion tours, and those tours can sell out.
But this is not the place to discuss what is or isn’t emo. Today, in honor of Consequence’s 15th birthday, we’re just here to round up some of the very best twinkly, mathy, whiny, and emotive releases of the past 15 years.
15. Origami Angel – Somewhere City (2019)
On their debut album, Somewhere City, Origami Angel — the D.C. duo of Ryland Heagy and Pat Doherty — flip the trope of suburban angst on its head: What if we actually could get out of here, and what if the place that awaits us is infinitely better? What if that place is within arm’s reach? Whimsical and vivid, Somewhere City is just as awe-inspiring as the metaphorical location.
14. Title Fight – Floral Green (2012)
If you’re of the mentality that real emo can and should only stem from post-hardcore, then Title Fight might be about as real as they come on Floral Green. The Pennsylvania band’s sophomore album saw the one-time pop-punk underdogs suit up for the big leagues with a more cosmic, heavy sound, while still putting their soaring melodies at the forefront.
13. Dating – Outminded (2012)
Outminded often feels so singular that it’s obvious it could have only come from Scandinavia. Swedish band Dating spin elements of noise, post-punk, and shoegaze into their gothic breed of emo, feeling at once all-consuming and macabre. While Outminded may not have garnered the same popularity as other albums on this list at the time of its release, it’s the type of underground project you can envision current bands pointing to as an influence.
12. Glocca Morra – Just Married (2012)
Though it might be easy to pit Glocca Morra among their fellow emo revival peers — a value-brand Snowing, a less pop Joyce Manor — it’s equally difficult to deny that what they do, they do well. When it comes to point-and-shout-along hooks, the band’s second album, Just Married, hits the nail on the head.
11. Street Smart Cyclist – Discography (2014)
Before Willow Brazuk, Nate Dionne, and John Galm formed Snowing, they were three-eighths of the similarly math-influenced band Street Smart Cyclist, who put out three EPs in just as many years before their dissolution. Admittedly, Discography isn’t a proper album, instead comprising pretty much everything SSC put to tape. But their short time together doesn’t mean they didn’t take themselves seriously: A now-hilarious statement from the band’s Jon Geeting almost exactly 15 years ago asserts that the band isn’t “emo in that pejorative MTV definition where we cry about girls,” and they have the grounds to say that because they know Rites of Spring and Moss Icon.
If that statement tells us anything now, the first is: We’ll never land on a single definition of emo. Secondly, unlike the aforementioned late ’80s bands, SSC’s main goal was “to have a killer time and get real happy and shrug off all the bullshit of a young person’s life for just a 15 minute set, and take our shirts off.” If you haven’t caught on already, that seems to be what the revival was all about.
10. Foxtails – III (2017)
One spin of Foxtails’ III and you’ll hear everything from math rock to shoegaze to hardcore to jazz. Tying it all together is the band’s unfettered ferocity, and particularly that of vocalist Megan Cadena-Fernandez, who seamlessly wavers between a delicate croon to a piercing, bone-chilling scream. Foxtails’ musical and lyrical intricacies belie the restrictive “screamo” label.