It is titled The Question. And upon opening the linear notes, you are presented with the question "Where were you when I was…" Each track title completes the question (i.e. "So Cold I Could See My Breath," "The Weakest," "In a Lose, Lose Situation"). The artwork portrays a man pulling this question out of his coat and handing it to another man, who hands it to a woman, who hands it to a child, who hands it right back to the first man.
It seems the slightest bit cryptic until you take a glance at the lyrics. The Question, as a whole, seems poignantly directed at teenagers who wish to blame others for their pain and heartache. Major points to Emery for being the first band in a long time to state the obvious… the fault is their own. From the openly arrogant opener "So Cold I Could See My Breath" to the regretful closer "In a Win, Win Situation," The Question delivers the answer with a punch.
"So Cold I Could See My Breath" deals with the twisted way teenagers view relationships in our generation, "How quickly lust can pretend it's love… We're just the boys and girls who think they always know. With answers for the world, the ambiguity shows… Always trying what I can to be a child and not a man. My hands across your clothes. And me without a plan." Emery steps it up on The Question with such brutal honesty that you can almost hear a faint "Desperate times call for desperate measures" coming from your subconscious. It is one of those rare releases that moves you so deeply with it's unabashed honesty that you cannot help but dare to change. "Left with Alibis and Lying Eyes" literally puts you in the driver's seat of a car called "Running from your mistakes" as vocalists Toby Morelle and Devin Shelton scream at you from shotgun, "Drive! Drive! Drive! Drive! I don't want to get caught! We will say we're innocent. There is enough to prove we're not. They will believe anything."
And with this nothing-is-off-limits mentality, Christians take a hard blow from Emery as well on "Listening to Freddie Mercury," "We are all sisters and brothers until we find we don't believe the same, like… Gary is getting drunk to forget Sarah. Sarah is stealing money from her parents. Aaron is lying straight to Jon about Megan and the things that went on. Jessica is a gossip. Laura is a slut. Derrick hits Bridget, and Ben deals drugs. Seth spends his money gambling. Joey stopped praying. It is all the same thing. We are all the same people. With sinning hearts that make us equal…It is not our job to make people believe."
But as stated, by the disc's end, there is an overt sense of disgust and regret. "In a Win, Win Situation" ends with the line "I'd take it all back to start over again." There never really is a sense of hope. But that is not what Emery is trying to convey with The Question. They're pointing out the fault, and desperately crying out for us to take the next logical steps.
Remarkably, Emery conveys this emotion with minimal screaming. In contrast, The Question takes the melodic hardcore of The Weak's End and eliminates most, but not all, of the hardcore edge. This is a much catchier and accessible release. Plainly put, if you did not enjoy Emery's first release, there is a very good chance you will be able to get into The Question
The question of whether their sophomore effort matches up to their debut is redundant at best when faced with the hard reality of all that The Question is. Emery takes all that is wrong, twisted, and perverted in our culture today, puts it in a blender, and explains to us the mess in twelve tracks of satire. Kudos to the band for saying what desperately needs to said… The answer is in The Question.- Review date: 8/5/05, written by Josh Taylor
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