Michigan punk duo THE EXPLORATION‘s brand of affectionately-named “twinkle skrams” sets itself apart from its contemporaries with a unique energy in their performances along with a unique tapping style to their guitar lines. It’s very easy to be lost in the same tropes when writing an emo record, but THE EXPLORATION are doing what they can to stand out, and it’s not often where a band in this genre can impress based on technical skill alone. Attracting a modest following over the since 2009 over a handful of releases and a demo compilation earlier this year on Driftwood Records, the band’s new record For Cabana sets out as a successful launchpad into what could be the new rising star in the US emo scene.
The lyrics of For Cabana tell modern fables of damaged elderlies, nuclear families and heavy goodbyes that conveys a sense of quiet suburban melancholy, an essential change of pace from the more aggressive bands emerging from various scenes across the Midwest and East Coast. The constant interjections and disjointed verses conjure images of inner struggles, “In my mind / Constant abstractions of life outside / Just a construction / What’s your world? / I’m taking suggestions now” The ‘narrator’ of these stories is damaged and paranoid, emotionally overwhelmed. This is also directly shown through the fantastic vocal performances, where the band really shows the spoken word influence of their music. The lyrical passages split between rigid bellows of “SI-LENCED BY! YEARS OF! DIS-TRAC-TIONS!” between rhythmic, almost groove-able “SO MUCH FOR SO LONGS!”.
Aside from the frantic guitar taps and tom beats, For Cabana manages to vary its instrumentals with slower, almost ambient jams that aren’t so much American Football as they are Future Days. The second half of the album takes this slower, tentative turn such as K___n which employs some rather dainty reverse reverb, and Nostalgical, which swaps out tapping for sliding, hitting a volta from the first half’s boisterous energy to a sombre melancholy on the second. While these slower and more experimental tracks break the cohesion of the record slightly, it’s certainly a necessary display of what THE EXPLORATION has to offer, both lyrically and instrumentally. It’s a unique, endearing record with fantastic technical skill and whimsically tragic lyrics and, if anything, the brevity of the record just makes me excited for their next release. Solid.