Emo music, like its oft-derided fans, is frequently misunderstood. To the layman, it is something to be scoffed at, all eyeliner and self-harm, skinny jeans, bad poetry, lip rings and teenage tantrums.
All that stuff is important, of course, but there’s plenty more to the genre than that. From its roots as an offshoot of hardcore to its early 2000s heyday and inevitable backlash, then a retreat back to the cult underground, emo has been through enough trials and tribulations, moments of triumph and tragedy to inspire, well, a great emo song.
With more than three decades of history, emo has changed and evolved, built cultures and sub-cultures (and probably sub-sub-cultures), and flirted with the mainstream. It has also produced some extraordinary music.
Emo inherently lends itself to the album format, a chance to explore feelings at length, to wallow and grieve. The best of them conjure a mood which can transport us to days of adolescent anguish, or help us through contemporaneous woes. For all that the genre’s sincerity can be a little silly, a little embarrassing, at its best, it’s transcendent.