Emarosa – ‘Peach Club’

By Gem Rogers

2019 is already turning into the year for bands to embrace a change in sound. It’s a move that is always bold, if not always wise – but when it’s done right, a change can be exactly the right move to unveil a new and exciting identity.

When it came to the release of the first single from ‘Peach Club’, Emarosa wasted no time in revealing their new direction with ‘Givin’ Up’. Perilously catchy synth-pop replaced their previous alt-rock tones, representing a significant change even for a band who’ve already been gradually evolving for more than ten years.

The first thing that’s clear from the rest of ‘Peach Club’ is that it wasn’t a one off toe-dip into shiny, pop flavoured waters. Opening with ‘Givin’ Up’ and its follow-up singles ‘Don’t Cry’ and ‘Cautious’, this is an album that is drenched in 80s vibes – but despite the retro style, it never feels out of date. Blending just enough electronic elements to keep it fresh without going overboard, songs like the anthemic, uplifting ‘Get Back Up’ and groove-laden ‘So Bad’ are about as close to pure, infectious ear candy as you’re likely to hear this year.

The first half of the album is given over to these largely upbeat numbers, so it comes as a bit of a surprise when the pace – and style – is abruptly dropped for acoustic track ‘xo’. It’s a nice enough song that allows Bradley Walden’s soulful vocals to take centre stage, but ultimately feels like it belongs to another album entirely and doesn’t quite manage to capture the same level of imagination as the tracks that surround it.

Fortunately, it’s not long before things are picked back up again with album highlight ‘Hell Of It’. A dark, dramatic track, it tackles destructive relationships from an unapologetic angle with gorgeous layered vocals and an insistent beat, whilst the repeated middle-eight refrains evoke feelings of the spiralling nature of these relationships. It’s a song that demands repeated listens, and only gets better with each replay.

Things begin to slow down towards the end of the album, with the atmospheric ‘Comfortable’ being appropriately, well, comfortable – the kind of song that’s the aural equivalent of sinking into a deep sofa at the end of a long, tiring day. Lyrically, there’s a lot to love about ‘Peach Club’ – whether it’s the positivity and keep-going message of ‘Get Back Up’, or the emotive ‘Don’t Cry’, Emarosa are able to approach life’s struggles with messages of hope and solidarity (and a healthy dose of singalong-inducing joy). ‘IW2DWY’ is especially poignant; though in some ways sombre, it’s also deeply comforting as Walden weaves a tale of the desperation of life and clinging on for a loved one, whilst being somewhat juxtaposed with sparkling instrumentation reminiscent of Taylor Swift’s ‘Welcome To New York’. It’s a special moment in the album, and clear evidence of how this change in direction has unleashed something altogether more beautiful and fresh in the band.

Wrapping up with the understated, sweet melodies of ‘Wait, Stay’, there’s a strong feeling of thematic consistency across the album. With only a brief exception for the slightly misplaced ‘xo’, it’s well paced and varied enough to be interesting right to the very end.

Emarosa have always been a good band, with a strong back catalogue of albums to prove it – but their wholehearted embrace of this new direction sees them find what feels like their true identity, elevating them to a whole other level. ‘Peach Club’ is earworm pop at its very best; bright, joyful, meaningful, and utterly impossible to ignore. This is a club you’ll want to join.

GEM ROGERS

Three more album reviews for you

LIVE: Black Peaks / Phoxjaw @ The Parish, Huddersfield

LIVE: You Me At Six @ Scala, London

Crystal Lake - 'Helix'