The Dismemberment Plan - Emergency & I
Mar 20, 2019
100
The Dismemberment Plan's Emergency & I is my favorite album of the late 90s. Travis Morrison's earnest vocals and paranoid lyrics capture the heightened anxieties of growing up in the digital age. It sounds like a Y2K fever dream as the band highlights our fears and reliance on a technologically connected culture. By blending the heavier edges of emo with inventive pop melodies, The Dismemberment Plan created an endlessly listenable, emotionally cathartic, and quintessential object of the 1990s. I love you, Travis Morrison.

'A Life of Possibilities,' sets the tone of the record so well. The album opens on an image of excavation. Morrison plants his shovel into the soft earth of his soul and begins the process of slowly digging out his emotional turmoil. He depicts his feelings with ambivalence, giving equal weight to the positives and negatives of connecting with other people. Emotion and technology act as the bridge between others. The song wonderfully captures the internal and external processes of self-discovery and the desire to share that.

There are other songs on the album, like 'Memory Machine' and 'Gyroscope,' where the band ponders how technology affects our connections through creative sonic decisions. I love the chorus of 'Gyroscope,' the jarring rhythmic switch is so disorienting and satisfying: the whole song feels slightly unbalanced. The different intensities, rhythms, and styles make Emergency & I endlessly engaging from start to finish.

'You are Invited' is my favorite Dismemberment Plan song, and its message extends far beyond the album. The song is structured with a sparse beat, and Travis is basically speaking the lyrics. The repeated chorus is sung to different people in the narrative, and each time the emotional tone shifts. While the first chorus has an underlying sense of bewilderment, Morrison ultimately extends the invitation to his lonely neighbor and the audience. While we aren't exactly sure what the party is, there is power in being invited and sharing that invitation. The intimacy of sharing, of extending an open hand to someone is the most potent form of connection we can make with others. Regardless of developing technologies, we can connect with people by offering them an invitation to join the conversation. It is kind of sappy, but it hits home. The Dismemberment Plan's Emergency & I continues to feel relevant twenty years later as we struggle to think about how we relate to each other during the digital age. They do such an excellent job at capturing the desire for relationships mixed with the fear of being vulnerable.

This website has always been a space I have admired, but I have always been paralyzed to write on the internet. While I have wanted to talk about music, I struggle with feeling confident about posting anything. My palms sweat when I make a Facebook status. This album helped me push myself to write online, even if that writing is shrouded by anonymity. The fear of posting online has not disappeared, but it exists in tandem with my desire to connect with others. Understanding that those two things can exist at the same time was a gamechanger. Emergency & I helped me realize that my anxieties were relatable, and sharing those feelings is part of the process of moving forward. I have a lot of love for this album, and it helps that it sounds so friggin good.
2 Comments
Mar 20, 2019
So I was listening to this today, and came here to write a review. After all, it's one of my favorite albums ever, but damn you really went and did this. Excellent work. I've literally cried listening to 'Invited'. You nailed so much on the themes of isolation, etc.
Mar 20, 2019
Thank you @thebravesDH. Really, this comment is so thoughtful. This review was a little tougher because the album resonates on such a personal level. I came on here to get more comfy with writing online (and arching my listening habits.) Comments like this make it the experience so much more meaningful. I would love to know your thoughts on the record! Also happy I am not alone in shedding a tear to these boys.
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