Release Date: 04.23.02
Record label: Anti
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.
by: bill aicher
For years Milwaukee's Promise Ring was a mainstay in any emo kid's cd library. Their 30 Degrees Everywhere and Nothing Feels Good epitomized what many considered to be the pinnacle of emo punk. Even Very Emergency which found the band swaying towards a more pop-rock oriented audience still managed to appeal to those fans who couldn't get quite enough of the loud/soft/loud sound.
With Wood/Water Promise Ring have thoroughly washed their sound of its early emo roots. Quite possibly due in major part to lead singer Davey Von Bohlen's brush with near-death and a brain tumor the size of a grapefruit, Wood/Water offers a much more mature sound than that found in any of their previous efforts - offering equal parts Flaming Lips and Weezer, while continuing to instill the Midwestern vibe which underlies each of their discs. This being said, it can also be said that Wood/Water is without doubt the band's finest product to date.
Helming production duties this time around is Stephen Street, a name most notable for his work with The Smiths, Blur, and The Cranberries. His influence is present throughout the disc, especially on "Suffer Never" - a track which screams equal parts Smiths and Flaming Lips (circa The Soft Bulletin).
Yet it's on tracks like "Half Year Sun" "Letters to the Far Reaches," and "Bread and Coffee" that we hear Promise Ring at their most poignant and most personal - and these are the times the band shines its brightest.
The album's highest point, however, is the disc's achingly true "Become One Anything One Time." It's here we find the band sounding most like an American Travis with the surprisingly heartwarming refrain "I'm just happy you stuck around."
"My Life Is At Home" is perhaps one of the album's lower points, but for any midwesterner it's a song that's unmistakably true. "All the lukewarm weeks at 60 degrees / Now we're hoping it's humid / Show us summer please / Once in a lifetime / Once in a while / Sun will shine on me" - a Wisconsin homecoming anthem sure to enthuse prior fans of the band.
Through the years fits of frustration have permeated with releases of Promise Ring albums amongst screams of "they're not emo anymore!" This time it's unmistakably true, and we couldn't be more pleased. 08-Jul-2002 3:30 PM