[21 August 2014]
PopMatters Music Editor - Canada
There’s nobody named Emily in Emily and the Complexes. Instead, the band is an outlet for singer-songwriter Tyler Verhage, who has spent his time on the road with nothing but a guitar strapped across his back. He met his fellow bandmates in Ohio, and the group was born. The band does have a full-length to their credit, but they’re now unleashing a follow-up EP, which is available only digitally and as a seven-inch vinyl record. Based on the goods here, Emily and the Complexes may just very well be the next Whiskeytown, just with a little more rock heft. Dirty Southern Love has a very Crazy Horse feel to it, particularly on the crashing guitars that introduce “Joshua”, but there are hints of folk rock here as well. Emily and the Complexes practically skip over genres, and that’s what makes them so interesting. While one could quibble that the songwriting could use just a bit more polish – the ending of “Yer Boyfriend (Is a Cheapskate)” seems truncated and aborted – this is genuine and authentic music that is compulsively listenable.
“You Won’t” has a particular heft and power, and is a good time crunch of rock ‘n’ roll. “Jersey City Blues”, for some reason, reminds me of an early Radiohead song, as the vocals are reminiscent of Thom Yorke’s. There’s even a lyric that goes, “If you’re gonna creep me out.” Strategically, the strongest tracks make up Side B of the EP, and those tracks are being shared on Soundcloud, which might be a little weird, but at least you can say that this record ends on a sterling note. There’s real honest to goodness emotion and heft to these songs, and while the EP format doesn’t exactly play to these guys’ strengths as it’s over before you can really get into it, Emily and the Complexes is certainly a band that’s ripe for discovery. Scorching and fiery, the Dirty Southern Love EP is a cutting investment, and one best devoured with, as the band sings, “rubbing alcohol or scotch, I don’t care.”