It’s the kind of song that makes happily married men wish that they were dysfunctionally single, just to get the full flavour of the angst. It starts quiet. A pure voice sings intimately, urgently: ‘It’s like a pencil with erasers at both ends. I want it all but we’re dealing in percents,’ and without slackening the vocal pace, guitars kick in, simple double bursts, more beat than melody, as the singer continues, ‘And these activities that you have engaged in.’ (guitar burst) ‘This is the politics of seeing you dance with him.’ A killer line, another guitar burst and the discerning listener drives his or her car off the road with sheer delight.
The song is ‘Studying Politics’ from The Question, the latest album by Christian Emo band Emery. Emery’s singles are good enough to be played on the radio along with Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance. But they’re not on the radio. The ‘trust no-one’ part of me assumes that this is because secular media conspires against everything Christian and I’m already planning a march, building a compound in Waco, burning my bra or whatever else Christians are supposed to do when life’s unfair, when suddenly I realise the truth. Life is tough. Wear a helmet.
The fact is that while scores of super-talented bands, secular and Christian, languish in obscurity, talentless mass-produced oxygen-thieves clog our airwaves with vacuous garbage (also Christian and non-Christian). And bands like Emery are unlikely to make it onto Christian radio either. Mainly because we would rather buy the stultifyingly dull Corrine Bailey-Rae equivalents than challenge ourselves aesthetically or condescend to supporting quality Christian art that isn’t all worship.
Emery’s latest album is by no means the greatest I’ve heard. Some tracks tend to wander aimlessly, eventually falling short of the genius of standout tracks like ‘Studying Politics’, ‘Left With Alibis and Lying Eyes’ and ‘Listening to Freddy Mercury’. But the highlights alone make the album worth buying. And if enough of us buy it, it may just make it onto the radio, right? Yeah, and Britney Spears was signed because of her song-writing talent. A boy can dream though…