I’m not going to lie: I was beyond bummed when I heard that Pillow Theory was calling it a day. They had been my go to band for over a decade and, if scheduling permitted, I was always at their shows. The visceral power of Outpatience (produced by none other than Steve Albini) and the equally powerfully, yet sonic textured Meltdown all but wore out my many incarnations of my Ipod. Live, Pillow Theory were just as strong, more than holding their own with any and every band grinding it out on the local NYC music scene. But I understood how difficult it was for Kelsey Warren, the leader and driving force behind the band, to keep the band going – especially in the face of a New York City whose music scene was quickly getting swallowed up by gentrification. He even dropped a couple of musical Easter eggs at the end of PT’s run: ‘Rescue’ and ‘Warm The Blood’ were key Meltdown tracks that owed more to Air and Twin Shadow than it did Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana. Also, future Blak Emoji songs ‘Sapiosexual’ and ‘Baby Making Heels’ made their way into Pillow Theory sets offering a raw glimpse of where the music was headed.
by Earl Douglas, Jr.
So I wasn’t too surprised to go to Blak Emoji’s debut show and see more Moogs, keyboards and electronic drums as there were guitars. The same can be said about the new EP, ‘Intro’ which dropped on January 20th. It’s sexier, slinky and powered more by electro funk with splashes of rock and pop. ‘Baby Making Heels’ and ‘Honey are lusty grinders that recalls Dirty Mind-era Prince and peak period Nine Inch Nails. ‘Sapiosexual’ is a sexy come on that champions intellect over physical attributes (‘I love your brain just as much as I love your ass’). ‘Velvet Ropes and Dive Bars’ finds that right balance between being in the VIP section and that local hole in the wall where everyone knows your name. The EP’s closer, ‘Poison To Medicine’ is a meditative, steady building song that is destined to be an anthem as a nation heads into deep, dark uncharted territory. If there’s any justice in the world, it’ll be a huge across the board hit.
Kelsey Warren has been a consistently great singer-songwriter for well over a decade. Blak Emoji serves as both a launch point for an exciting new chapter and a summation of his musical journey so far. Simply put, it’s the first great release of 2017.
Blak Emoji is available now through all major music outlets.