If emo's millennial angst is having something of a comeback (and judging from the rising star of St. Louis' Foxing, it is), then perhaps there is room for a resurgence of emo's more melodic offshoots as well. Local quartet Tidal Volume could lead this charge with a new EP fueled by insistent acoustic guitar strums, plain-faced feelings and recurrent "whoa-oh!" choruses.
Most of these songs meet at the collision of hormonal, emotional confusion and encroaching maturity, and singer/guitarist Zach Sullentrup walks this tightrope as one who owns his feelings and seeks to transmit their depths. But like the best Jimmy Eat World songs, the tracks on the five-song Icing EP never sacrifice sturdy, tuneful pop dynamics for navel-gazing.
The opening strums and floor-tom rumble of first track "Icing" give way to Sullentrup's barrage of lyrics, which touch on romantic disappointments, artistic perseverance and a hope in shared humanity: heavy stuff for a young band, but it's rarely cloying and always forward-moving. Elsewhere in the program, "Nothing Ever Happened" and "Anyone Else" (the album's bonus track, released as a single last summer) treat the vagaries of young romance with a softer touch and traces of Weezer's stop/start hooks.
The band is supportive and energetic throughout the disc, but Tidal Volume shines as a taut foursome on the EP's pinnacle, "Phone Calls Home." Drummer Matt Sullentrup hits his fills with machine-gun precision, as if he's been holding back for all the songs that came before it, while keyboardist William Minard underlines a quiet bridge with anchor-like piano chords and simple harmonies.
Tidal Volume - "Icing" (Official Music Video)
But overall, the no-frills approach works to keep the spotlight on Zach Sullentrup's crafty lyrics and able voice, helping Icing stand proud as the rare teenage confessional that won't be an embarrassment in ten years' time.
Tidal Volume EP Release 7 p.m. Friday, June 6. The Firebird, 2706 Olive Street. $10. 314-535-0353.
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