Earlier this month, Myrtle Beach’s Cicala showcased their beer-scented brand of emo indie rock with the release of their second full-length record Post Country. The album’s tracks ooze suburban angst and a disenchanted honesty that help them nestle effortlessly into something that would sound familiar to fans of any number of emo heavyweights (The Front Bottoms, Modern Baseball, Sorority Noise etc.) With songwriter and frontman Quinn Cicala at the helm, the band has been touring the United States, making a name for itself among the sad and ironically detached in the DIY community.
Stylistically, Cicala isn’t breaking any new ground with Post Country. It checks every box with its confessional lyricism and tongue in cheek instrumental arrangement. While not asking for much of its audience, Post Country still manages to give listeners something that’s satisfying and familiar. “Leave”, the album’s first track opens with with a crunchy, naturally produced acoustic guitar that gives the album an irreverent sensibility from its opening seconds.
Cicala’s almost flippant approach to production and performance continue throughout the record. On “24”, a tremolo picked guitar needles its way over an unpretentious waltz that feels pretty fresh on an album seems to lean into genre tropes for most if its run time. With a handful of exceptions, the albums performance and production, while passionate and well executed, aren’t particularly radical, but do scratch the same itch as Cicala’s genre-contemporaries.
Post Country’s lyrics seem to anchor the record, being at once cheeky and brutally honest. If given a close listen, Cicala’s anecdotal, image-driven songwriting betrays a degree of sincerity without abandoning the albums cynical aesthetic. A lot of the songs on Post Country concern themselves with life on the road, and the toll it often takes on the band and their relationships to those back home. On “Arkansas,” Cicala says “I wake up with a fucking caffeine headache / and I can’t afford to take a break, too much to do, too much to say all these days.” “Arkansas,” and its contemporaries, paint a rich and sentimental image on an otherwise ironically apathetic canvas, but aren’t so pretentious as to tell you, the listener, how to feel about them. That’s up to you.
At its best, Post Country is a record with enough exasperated honesty to rub shoulders with any of emo’s classics. There are moments though where its archetypal production keeps the album from distinguishing itself from its contemporaries. If you’re looking to add another album to your “post-indie-emo-rock-etc” playlist, Post Country is a near-perfect choice. It’s a comfortable listen for emo fans, and scratches every itch without ruffling too many feathers. 7/10.