New End Original [I]Thriller[/I] Review

Thriller
New End Original
Jade Tree Records

When Saturday night rolls around and the cool kids fill up the hip clubs downtown, what does an emo without a date do? Why, sit down and write a weepy little tune about being sad, lonely and, most importantly, so uber-sensitive it makes girls sick, of course!

The question is, then, what happens on Saturday nights when non-emos are sitting around dateless? There’s the obvious alternatives of video games, surfing for porn and a drinking party for one: none of which seem any better than emo shenanigans. Of course, if you’re a member of New End Original, you can sit down with your guitar and really, really wish to be a sorry-assed emo kid, simply for the well of inspiration that comes with it.

Thriller – let’s figure a less auspicious way to beg comparisons to the King of Pop next time around, okay fellas? – is a prime example of how run down the post-hardcore pop is. Despite a lineup that features a former member of Texas is the Reason (guitarist Norman Arenas) and an ex-Far dude (guitarist Jonah Matranga), New End Original can’t get its act together to do anything but drag its songs into the oblivion of mediocrity that threatens to consume the entire emo-pop world.

New End Original runs its show strictly by formulas we’ve all learned before, and in doing so, tears its last connection to the mawkish, melodramatic sentimentality that’s been emo-pop’s calling card for the past few years. The funny thing is, no matter how annoying the songs of the battered heart club can be, without their tendency toward overblown emotionality, they’re curiously empty: It’s like a rock show without a terrible local act opening up the bill, Tia Juana without its Chiclet peddlers or Buddyhead without its fourth-grade grammatical errors. It’s annoying as all hell, but, then again, it’s also familiar and almost – almost! — endearing.

Don’t think that New End Original doesn’t try to get a piece of overemotional racket. Oh no. No matter how hard the act works, however, the best it can do is sound contrived. Whether it uses fuzz pedals as an accent to a particularly disenchanted chorus ("Lukewarm"), tosses out cobbled-together light-pop hooks ("Weary Progress") or descends into emo’s embarrassing sub-basement of piano-numbers that’s an affront to even the craptacular catalogs of Billy Joel and Elton John ("Leper Song"), New End Original’s obviously spent its lonely nights not dreaming of the one that got away, romantic walks in the park or poorly cut emo-girl hairdos, but rather fantasizing about just how great it would be, not to have some understanding female companionship, but to just be a living breathing part of the wonder of emo. Guys who dream of being guys who dream of being guys who get laid, New End Original’s debut is one of the most calculated, considered, and thoroughly embarrassing albums to be passed off onto the punk and indie world in quite a while.

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