Rocket Summer: Hello, Good Friend

Rocket Summer
Hello, Good Friend
(The Militia Group)

Emo has been getting a bad rap lately. There is a reason for this. People tend to mistake whiny vocals over pop punk instrumentals for emo, which originally stood for emotional hardcore, not necessarily emotional punk. By now, what emo stands for bears little resemblance to the days of Cursive and At the Drive In. With that introduction, it is now appropriate to review The Rocket Summer, who falls more accurately into the first category. Vocals dripping with angst combined with lyrics reminiscent of a junior high love letter stuffed in the locker of that one perfect girl who would surely fall instantly in love with the person who composed the right combination of words make Hello, Good Friend appropriate for any formulaic teenage romantic comedy. The piano work on the opening track “Move to the Other Side of the Block,” “I Was So Alone,” and “Never Knew” help drive what would otherwise be a lackluster, “I’m not trying to be Conor Oberst, honest” effort. At the same time, The Rocket Summer captures the earnestness of adolescent love in simple lyrics and infectiously repetitive guitar progressions in the same way that made groups such as The Get Up Kids and Jimmy Eat World enjoyable. Songs on Hello, Good Friend are mercifully short snippets with the exception of the closing track “Christmas Present,” a mellow 11:46 as if borrowing from “Goodbye Sky Harbor” on Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity. In small doses, The Rocket Summer is what they advertise themselves to be, a good friend visiting for the summer.