With about a half-a-dozen distinct waves, an attitude amongst bands that ranges from disgusted rejection to proud self-identification, and a listenership that can’t seem to agree on a common definition, “emo” is a rather nebulous concept. But as Austin, Texas natives Mall Walker are quick to tell you, they’re not not an emo band.
Though Austin’s place in emo history was canonized back in the ’90s by Texas legends Mineral, Mall Walker’s take on the genre has less in common with the aforementioned act’s pseudo-slowcore than it does the energetic, technical stylings of Midwest emo pioneers Braid and Cap’n Jazz.
On their self-titled debut, the band displays ample musical prowess—not surprising for a group boasting members of accomplished post-metal act Glassing and noise rock luminaries Easy Prey—as well as a resonant blend of melancholy and exuberance. Lively guitar leads are complemented by a pummeling, precise rhythm section, and throaty vocals that bring to mind the best moments of Hot Water Music.
Like revivalists such as Grown Ups, Snowing, and Prawn who brought mathy, DIY-rooted emo back from the brink of extinction in the early 2010s, Mall Walker is on a mission to prove that there are still things worth saying that can only be said with a Telecaster capoed at the fifth fret and tuned to open G.