Review: Dearheart’s ‘Too Late; Doesn’t Matter’ Displays the Ambition of Emo’s Next Wave

Too Late; Doesn't Matter by Dearheart
Dearheart’s debut album ‘Too Late; Doesn’t Matter’ shows a band with a lot of promise on a record that channels American Football and Death Cab for Cutie.

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The further we get away from 2013 the stranger the idea of an emo revival seems.  In 2013, The World is a Beautiful Place released Whenever, If Ever; Foxing put out The Albatross; The Front Bottoms struck gold with Talon of the Hawk.  By 2014, every great rock record seemed to be emo or emo-adjacent.  Whether it was Modern Baseball’s You’re Gonna Miss It All, Joyce Manor’s Never Hungover Again, or Tiny Moving Parts’ Pleasant Living, there was no shortage of scrappy young bands putting out career-defining LPs.  Now, they’re the ones influencing scrappier young kids who know they can emulate Brian Sella’s nasal yelp or Brendan Lukens’ throaty croon.  Most younger bands fail to capture the lightning in a bottle that so many of these emo revivalists did, but now we’re gifted with Seattle’s Dearheart, who – through their debut LP Too Late; Doesn’t Matter – are setting themselves up to be key players in the next wave of emo.

Stream: ‘Too Late; Doesn’t Matter’ – Dearheart


Too Late; Doesn't Matter by Dearheart

Too Late; Doesn’t Matter – Dearheart

While emo was built on a certain brand of guitar-tapping math-rock, most artists fall into the pitfall of showing off how talented of players they are rather than focusing on writing great songs.  Dearheart are great songwriters that can play and let their emotions lay on a page.  They incorporate some of the qualities of the Twinkle Daddies, like Algernon Cadwallader or TWIABP, but they bring some of the pop-savvy delivery that made this genre huge in the mid-2000’s.  The record begins with an intricate guitar part that was a staple of this genre, but it serves as the weakest point of the record.  The beginning of “I Did This to Myself” makes the listener think that this is just going to be a punchier take on American Football, but the song takes a dramatic shift in being a more palatable form of post-rock-inspired pop-punk.  Vocalist and guitarist Steven Denler has a mesmerizing tone that’s easy to get lost in but get torn out of when he embraces more elements of screamo.

The most interesting moments on Too Late; Doesn’t Matter are when the band reaches for epic heights.  Most bands can’t really make an album that feels gargantuan on their debut, but in songs like “Secrets,” the song swells and the production echoes just enough to make the song sound cinematic.  As so many of their contemporaries do, it takes a small moment (“I kissed a girl…”) and gives it the scope of the sun.  Even in faster songs like “Forgetting History,” Dearheart add touches of reverb to make it all the more enticing.  The yelping call and response chorus is also nice to latch onto in the simple breakup song.  The building progression of “Hurricane” really shows what the band does best though.  A post-rock soundscape that puts you in the center, Denler really lets himself howl as the song begins to batter you as he sings, “Now, it’s over.”

Dearheart © 2019

Dearheart © 2019

While Dearheart show a lot of promise, they need to step up their lyrics.  The songs are gorgeous and well-composed, but the lines are built on lyrical clichés.  It feels like they just threw darts at a Rupi Kaur book and took whatever lines the landed on.  A song like “The Inevitable Collapse of a Good Thing” is a stunning acoustic song, but the tedium of its lyrics make it a much more forgettable number than it should be.  The full band backing that comes in halfway through doesn’t feel completely earned, because I don’t know what’s happened.  In songs like “Flawless,” you get the sense that Denler is being incredibly honest, but he’s not being specific.  When you reckon with some of your life’s hardest moments, you don’t speak in vague, broad poeticisms.  You tend to infer some of the real life issues, and I wish Too Late; Doesn’t Matter would tell me more.

As we begin whatever the next wave of emo will be, Dearheart have established themselves as a key player.  They deliver their songs with bare honesty that has made their predecessors last, but need to tweak some of their lyrics.  Too Late; Doesn’t Matter seems the next step in the lineage of records like Transatlanticism or Deja Entendu, and it’s exciting to see where Dearheart goes next.

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:: stream/purchase TLDM here ::

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Too Late; Doesn't Matter by Dearheart

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Too Late; Doesn’t Matter

an album by Dearheart

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James is a New York-based writer and comedian. Besides Atwood, he's also written for Sensations Press and his own blog Burgeraday.com. He also co-hosts the Burger-a-Day Podcast.