Fade to Pale, But Don't Stop Smiling

Gravity Gets Things Done (Sidecho Records)
The Pale

By Amanda Lee Anderson

If kids in emo bands took mood-stabilizing drugs and stopped crying single tears long enough to smile, they'd make music that sounds like the Pale. This band's newest album, Gravity Gets Things Done, is uncannily reminiscent of the thoughtful musings of the emo music that is so popular lately. Yet in general, their tempos are faster, their lyrics are more content and their melodies are more hummable than the average emo record.

Which is not to say that these guys are the newest up-and-coming pop stars headed for MTV fame. While their music is a great deal more upbeat than other bands of the same genre, their sound is still reminiscent of their emo roots. In "How to Fit In," the Pale show themselves as tortured high-schoolers who never quite find a group of friends they like - "It's easy to see why I'm so stressed out/There's forms to fill and fees to pay if you want to belong/ Handshakes, smiles and the inside jokes/I feel so left out when the punch line hits ..."

Other tracks show what it's like to have relationship anxiety ("Stop/Start") or to love a girl who never loves you back ("Gravity Gets Things Done"). This emo archetype has been played so many times, however, that many of the newer versions come off as derivative, hackneyed and banal. But the Pale don't, precisely because they combine their emo influences with the ability to smile.

Sure, the tracks about uncertainty, unrequited love and unpopularity are similar to what's been done before. But what hasn't been done is to write music about these things that balances these elements with a seemingly upbeat persona. Upon first listen, this album seems like it would be perfect summer listening, but the bright melodies betray the somewhat darker - but not too dark - undertones shown only in a fleeting lyric here and there.

So are they emo? Well, no one really knows. But Gravity Gets Things Done is sure to be a hit among lovers of emo and pop music alike, relevant when you feel like smiling or like crying emo tears.