Wood / Water The Promise Ring

By Sarah Sung

The emo-core sound is going nowhere but down, and thankfully The Promise Ring seem to have realized it. Their latest album, Wood/Water, definitely isn’t groundbreaking, but it also isn’t a shabby effort at producing something outside the realm of the now-stagnant emo-core movement that they helped pioneer (when it was still OK to do that). Upon first listen, it’s immediately obvious that The Promise Ring are expanding their musical horizons; the impressive first track, “Size of Your Life,” is more reminiscent of a good Brit-Pop tune than anything else. (And as it turns out, Stephen Street, who has produced bands such as The Smiths and Blur, produced the album.) Despite the fact that the rest of the album doesn’t live up to the first track, it’s unexpectedly enjoyable throughout. The first single, “Stop Playing Guitar,” contains lyrical and powerful guitar lines that emanate sadness without resorting to a whine. This is already The Promise Ring’s fifth album, but even this far along, it’s clear that they’re willing to make respectable efforts at a different sound. They’re smart enough not to keep beating the dead emo-horse, and have instead taken a step in the right direction.