Promise Ring

Very Emergency

BY Stuart GreenPublished Oct 1, 1999

Maturity is one of the nastiest words a young band can hear when they release a new record. Generally speaking, it means the youthful exuberance evident on early releases has been replaced by something that dulls their edge and causes the music to get mellow and uninteresting, but the Promise Ring's third album is the exception. Having fully recovered from a near fatal 1998 van crash and a Spinal Tap-ish series of bass player changes, the quartet is back with what is not only their strongest effort but one of the best records of the year. The answer lies in the musical and lyrical maturity the band displays on each of the record's ten tracks. Guitarist Jason Gnewikow says that is the result of a different writing approach. "On the last record, there are a lot of songs that would come from us playing and jamming things out," he says. "With a lot of these songs, Davey (von Bohlen, vocalist/guitarist) came in with a basic rhythm guitar part and vocal melody and we would structure them and add the embellishments. Before, we were stumbling over ourselves and we were lucky to write a handful of good songs. This time we really paid attention to how we were writing them. It was an exercise in writing pop songs." Utilising the talents of producer J. Robbins (Burning Airlines, Jets to Brazil) once again to harvest the material and get it faithfully committed to tape, those songs come together to create a deliciously melodic and genuinely inspired collection of music that sways from driving post-punk rock to tender emo ballads and back again with ease. They're being widely hailed as a band to watch at the turn of the millennium, something Gnewikow takes as a mixed blessing. "I won't say we can't not pay attention to it, but what people write about you can be an evil thing either way you look at it," he says. "If they're writing good stuff you shouldn't believe it because they're probably full of shit and if they're writing bad stuff... well, no one likes to hear bad stuff.” The Promise Ring embarks on a warm-up mini-tour in mid September that brings them to Toronto Sept. 14 and Ottawa in Sept. 14 with Eupone.
(Jade Tree)

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