Emily's Army - Don't Be A Dick
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Record Label: Adeline Records
Might as well just get this out of the way. Emily’s Army is interesting because of Green Day. Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day’s lead vocalist and guitarist, produced Emily’s Army 14-track debut record, Don’t Be A Dick. Billie Joe’s son, Joey Armstrong, is the drummer for Emily’s Army, a four-piece pop-punk outfit out of Oakland, Calif.
Equally as noteworthy, however, is that this group has already spent two years touring the west coast despite still being in high school. Armstrong, bassist Max Becker and guitarists Cole Becker and Travis Neumann range in age from 15-17 years old. Despite, or perhaps because of, their young age, Emily’s Army plays a fully innocent brand of 90s-tinged old-school pop-punk. Their location certainly plays a role into all this, as there is a distinctly Californian feel to Don’t Be A Dick, whether it comes out in lyrics about the west coast or the dual vocal stylings of the Becker brothers.
It may come across as lazy journalism to some, but there is no reason to avoid comparing Emily’s Army to early Green Day. The core sound of Don’t Be A Dick doesn’t stray too far from the roots of Kerplunk!, with Emily’s Army giving us a slightly faster-paced and more polished record. However, saying something is more polished than Kerplunk! doesn’t mean much – Don’t Be A Dick is still punk at its core, with the Becker brothers infusing a pop sensibility with their vocals.
The lyrics on these songs are nothing to delve into, as titles like “Asslete,” “Ho-lloween” and “Statutory Brain Rape” should reveal upon first impression that these kids are still just that – kids. But with no shortage of uptempo power chord progressions and an impressive rhythm section, highlighted by Max Becker’s rock-solid bass lines, Don’t Be A Dick is an undeniably fun and amusing listen.
As should be expected from a band this young, there is a good amount of filler on the album. Fourteen tracks seems like an extensive debut these days, but chiming in at only 34 minutes total, whatever filler is present during the middle of the record is basically gone before you realize it. There are certainly some standouts; “Romdrom” is the most Green Day-sounding track, while “Little Face” and closer “Loch Lomond” have the catchiest hooks. The first half of the record proves to be the more impressive, with each of the first five tracks coming across as purely fun pop-punk songs.
Green Day is a band that started at a young age and withstood the test of time. Two decades later, they’re still around and still making music. Emily’s Army probably won’t be a band for 20 years, but this debut record is something they’ll treasure for their whole lives. It captures that entire sense of being young, writing songs in high school and putting together your first band. The fact that they’ve been thrust into the spotlight because of their drummer and producer only makes things more interesting for everyone who listens. At the end of the day, Don’t Be A Dick won’t be remembered as a stroke of genius or anything of that sort – but if you don’t like this record, you might just not like having fun.