Sound — 8
Emery's fifth studio record We Do What We Want is an aptly titled album if there ever was one. While the South Carolina natives certainly do keep ties to post-hardcore/screamo, there's a wide variety of musical styles that pop throughout the course of the 10 tracks. There's an assortment of little sections without the course of many of the songs, which makes their latest marketing device i.e., previewing its first single Scissors in seven separate sections, one by one all the more fitting.
After the opener The Cheval Glass teases with almost a computer-like synth intro, Emery immediately transitions into a barrage of high-pitched screams and almost a mechanical-sounding guitar riff. But don't get too used to that train of musical thought, as The Cheval Glass then turns toward a more straightforward, melodic rock vibe. This is the format for quite a few of the tracks on We Do What We Want, which at the very least won't leave you bored from monotony. There is definitely no same old, same old material on this release. Some might feel the few breakdowns aren't fully committing to the standard or perhaps way too fleeting, but it does offer some nice tempo changes.
We Do What We Want saves most of its more aggressive material for the first half, with the single Scissors, You Wanted It, and The Anchors offering some brief metal moments. You Wanted It is most definitely the most in-your-face of the arrangements with its doubled (possibly tripled?) screams, the layers of gain-driven instrumentation, and the general venom spewing from Josh Head's words. Of course, within each of those tracks, a good chunk of the arrangement leans toward melody, so even the heaviest numbers won't leave you aurally exhausted.
Toby Morell's melodic vocals are top-notch, with Daddy's Little Girl featuring almost a jazzy/crooning style in the introduction. Effective harmonies are interspersed throughout the CD, with Matt Carter's tasteful clean guitar work showing up as often as his distorted riffs. The last two songs I Never Got To See The West Coast and Fix Me actually center around the acoustic and vocals, making it a rather unexpected finish to a CD that begins with an assault of screams.
Lyrics — 9
The band has mentioned that this CD is focused around its spirituality/religious beliefs without being preachy, and that mission is accomplished for the most part. The lyrical content becomes seems more introspective on life in general and you never really feel that they are pushing a message down your throat. There should be quite a few songs that listeners can relate to, with a song like I Never Got To See The West Coast connecting with those who felt uncertainty or even despair (So is it courage or strength and is that what I'm waiting for? If I could just kill myself, would it also kill the remorse? I wanted to badly to catch a break, but I'm only breaking down).
Overall Impression — 8
The creativity on We Do What We Want is to be commended, even if it's slightly scattered. The album never gets stagnant and there is much more to engage the listener than just the verse-chorus-verse approach. Emery excels in the unexpected moments be it the jazzy intro to Daddy's Little Girl or the Moog (or what sounds like a Moog) shows up in Addicted To Bad Decisions. It's the songwriting decisions like those that indicate we don't have to worry that Emery will be getting dull anytime soon.