There comes a point in a genre’s development where its architects refuse to leave a crack in its veneer. For emo, it’s harder to pinpoint exactly where a flawed, lo-fi approach could cause concern with scene purists, but it seems like the zeitgeist has moved away from the raw and more to the reeled-in. Polish isn’t a bad thing, but Iowa’s Arizona Landmine foregoes most sheen for an approach which, like their moniker, is dry and explosive. Vocals have a cutting, sneering ring to them which only grows bolder if instruments stop to take a backseat. Here’s the thing, though, the way the outfit’s latest EP, When Will I Ever Learn?, is constructed is more like a garage band than a gut-punch serviced by guitar noodles and ample percussion, so vocals are what gets relegated to the back. Sure, strong mixes of all essential elements exist here; the crunchy, splintering “This Ain’t My First Rodeo” combines shrill tones with angular, shifting guitar tones. It’s where the deviance lies (see the 6.5-minute “American Spirits” for a smoke-screened trip from astute Joie de Vivre idol worship to a muddier coat of reverb-laden strings over the long haul) which seems more of note than a straightforward attack. Maybe we’ll see when these Midwesterners learn to develop more of their own brand of a time-tested and seemingly mimeographed template. They’re already headed there.
When Will I Ever Learn? is available for pre-order digitally and on cassette via Texas is Funny Records. Orders will ship on or around the release date of December 15th.