Record Review - 3 November 25 2000

The Juliana Theory's lead singer/third guitarist Brett Detar explains the title of the group's new CD as a reference to all the "choreography and plastic surgery" killing modern music. However, hearing Emotion Is Dead, a finely-combed album with each sonic hair in place, might inspire some to cry hypocrite. Rarely has an emo band allowed as much chiseled production.
But maybe the title actually refers to the band's resistance to simply being an "emo band" — maybe emo itself is dead to the Juliana Theory. Sure, they have many sonic similarities to emo bands like Jimmy Eat World and Weston, but song titles such as "Is Patience Still Waiting?," "If I Told You This Was Killing Me, Would You Stop?" poke self-conscious fun at the take-everything-seriously approach classified by chronic adolescence. But what sets the Juliana Theory apart from other emo bands is their acceptance of their influences, no matter who they are — prog rock, classic British metal, radio pop, even Journey — or whether they're useful in establishing indie cred.
While "Is Patience Still Waiting?" sounds like Hum, "Something Isn't Right Here" could be late-'80s Tesla or Extreme. The most glaring example of the Juliana Theory's post-emo maturity is the epic "You Always Say Goodnight, Goodnight," where an orgy of Pink Floyd-ish solos and Iron Maiden-esque howls mutates into a swirl of sequenced beats with a chorus of "come on, come on, what, what." A 10-minute song suite ending in white hipster hip-hop? Isn't that the kind of indulgence attributed to adolescents? Hell, maybe the Juliana Theory hasn't completely grown up, but their sound sure is big, and that's what matters.
The Juliana Theory play the Cotton Club, Sun., Nov. 26.