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When you, dear reader, think of emo, what springs to mind? Black-clad teens listening to My Chemical Romance while painting on outrageous amounts of eyeliner? Bands like Death Cab For Cutie or Jimmy Eat World? Or something more akin to the origin of the label: emotional lyrics set to often harsh music?

Philadelphia’s CLIQUE are none of those things, yet call themselves emo/indie/rock. Forming in 2014 from the ashes of several other local bands, they released their self titled debut album within a matter of months, followed by a split EP with Loose Tooth, Ghost Gum and Mumbler which contained single ‘Wishful Thinking’. Both were well received, earning generally positive reviews and beginning the band’s rapid ascent in their local scene.

Album number two, Burden Piece, was released mere hours ago (on May 27th) by Topshelf Records, who head hunted the fledgling band after the release of their debut; it comes in all formats including digital, CD, vinyl and cassette.

Opening track ‘Worth’ sets the tone for the entire album both sonically and structurally (no verses or choruses and each song clocks in at around two minutes). The prominent jangly guitars remain throughout the album, as do singer PJ Carroll’s crooned, rather dejected vocals – he sounds like a cross between Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo having a truly awful day and Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge – as well as some seriously melancholy lyrics.

To be frank, there isn’t a lot more to say about the album, other than it’s full of sadness, regret, nihilism and maudlin lyrics. The only track with a bit of lyrical bite is the surprisingly anti-police ‘Top Field’; other topics include eating disorders (‘Athlet’), breakups (‘Mutual’), cheating partners (‘Quappy’) and terrible childhood memories (‘Kelly’), all couched in simple, often almost dirge-like riffs and barely noticeable drums (with the exception of ‘Wishful Thinking’ and second single ‘Mutual’). They must be a real hoot live, eh?

Ironically, the most upbeat song is also the shortest: ‘Crater’, just over a minute long, has an almost jaunty feel and is more ‘shoegaze’ than just plain ‘despondent’. More like this, please.

Burden Piece is, in short, a rather one dimensional album. The songs are frustratingly similar, not to mention short – almost as if four or five decent songs have been chopped into the thirteen present. If you are feeling in any way depressed, this album will do one of two things: make you feel less alone (for there is suffering aplenty to relate to) or make you feel completely hopeless. ‘Emo’ is one thing: a total lack of joy and hope is another entirely.

Review by Melanie Black



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