Having bands change their style isn’t a new concept by any stretch of the imagination. As time presses forward, musicians often look to push the creative envelope and venture into unfamiliar terrain. The reasoning behind the push varies from band to band, but fear of releasing the same album twice is a centralized concept in a bulk of cases.
Some bands stray further from the path from record to record than others. The further one strays from the path they have set before them, the bigger risk they run of dividing their fanbase (and in some cases losing them entirely). However, a major stylistic change can sometimes reap major benefits if executed correctly. Within that spectrum, Emarosa is a prime example of a group who has continued to take risks, and has continued to reap the fruits of their labor.
Since their inception in 2006, Emarosa has gone through significant lineup and stylistic changes to get to where they are now. Their debut EP This is Your Way Out can best be described as an abrasive post-hardcore release with a splash of synths to ease a bit of the tension. As the years passed and the lineup continued to change, the group found themselves softening the edges on their post-hardcore roots to evolve into a melodic and high-soaring pop-rock group. However, this transition didn’t simply happen overnight.
With the addition of Dance Gavin Dance vocalist Jonny Craig in 2007, the group began to diversify themselves in the post-hardcore scene, and solidify their position as a group with aggressive instrumentals balanced out with soulful and R&B-style vocals. The response was extremely positive, as they toured with similarly structured groups such as A Skylit Drive and Breathe Carolina.
After the group parted ways with Craig in 2011, they began searching for a vocalist who could bring something unique to the table. Enter the Bradley Walden era that the group is currently in: an era filled with powerful and personable vocals that match the high-energy melodies that lie beneath it. Much like the previous transitions the group was making in years prior, the shift wasn’t an overnight change by any means.
When Walden first joined the group in 2013 and began touring in support of their third studio album Versus, his demeanor on stage was that he had something he had to prove. Catching them on tour supporting Chiodos and sharing the stage with Hands Like Houses, Our Last Night, and ’68 at the Crofoot in Pontiac, MI was a treat in its own regard being able to witness the evolution of the group first-hand, and the slow and steady culmination of what was still to come. It was clear that Bradley wasn’t striving to be Jonny Craig 2.0. But much like Craig, Walden has powerful pipes of his own, and wanted to use those to press the band forward with melodies and instrumentals that added a different dimension to the group.
Just when their fanbase felt that they had the Walden era figured out following the release of 131, the group threw another curve ball in the form of Peach Club: a high-soaring pop-rock album filled with infectious grooves and soulful melodies. Gone are the brash drum fills and heavy guitar riffs, and here we have synths and even a saxophone solo. The approach was bold but the execution is flawless, resulting in an 11-track release beaming with confidence and an unapologetic attitude that one can’t help but admire.
The result of the new direction has not only been well-received, but embraced with open arms to both their longtime fanbase, and new listeners that stumbled upon the group. The support is evident in the fact that every stop scheduled for their Peach Club Tour sold out. Fast forward five years to catching them share the stage with Too Close to Touch and Vaines to a sold out Pike Room in Pontiac, MI, the energy is through the roof. The confidence and unapologetic attitude felt on the studio release spills over to the stage, putting Walden front and center demonstrating the new era the band has reached over the span of 12 years.
As with any group, being able to witness their evolution first-hand and compare shows over the years is something truly special. The difference is night and day of Emarosa catching their set in 2014 compared to 2019. In those five short years in the Walden era, the group has continued to evolve and gain solidified group dynamics and confidence along the way. With how much the group has changed as a whole over the past 12 years, it’s safe to assume that they will continue to push boundaries and reach more milestones in the years to come.
For the time being, the group has something special to be proud of, letting their fan base in to their exclusive “Peach Club” that they’ve created as they continue to press boldly on.