EMF

Schubert Dip (1991)

Thoughts Before Listening

Scott

Ah, EMF. As was the case with many of our hits, “Unbelievable” was everywhere when it came out. It saw longevity that many of the others didn’t because it happened to be a song that every marketing/sales person in the world seemed to want playing behind their products. If a product didn’t have this song advertising it, it probably had Jesus Jones’s “Right Here, Right Now”.

I also remember the subversive side of me being absolutely delighted that radio stations and video channels were all playing the song uncensored, with the WTF! part of the lyrics right out there front and center. This also marks the third time in our site’s storied history that I’ve owned the CD since its release. Heck, I even own the CD single for “Children”. But while I own them, I don’t remember listening to them. It’s been a long time, but maybe there’s a reason they didn’t get a lot of play. Let’s find out!

Weh-Ming

EMF. Good ol’ EMF, yep. Goooooood ooooooold EEEEEE-EHMMMMMM-EFFFFFF. There it is, EMF’s chart topping album…Schubert Dip? Really? Huh. 

If I hadn’t had to look up the name of the album on Amazon Music, I wouldn’t have believed you. I might have even said… “You are not believable.” Get it? Because of the song? 

Here’s an impression of me (and be honest, most of you) singing EMF:

“HummmUmm dadadada..da..dadada humhum THE THINGS YOU SAY YOU’RE UNBELIEVABLE OH! Dadada da da da…”

I like other music of the time and the sort of contemporaries of EMF, so I think that I’ll probably find some good stuff in here.


Other Songs of Note

The icing on the cake

None – Weh-Ming was unimpressed.

What we would put on our personal mixtapes

“Lies”

Scott (5 points)

This is probably my favourite song on the album, outside of the single. It’s very well built – there’s time and space for the song to develop, and it does. I’m not going to have a whole lot of notes on these songs – they didn’t amaze me, but I enjoyed them.

Weh-Ming’s Comment

Did I listen to the wrong album? 5 points for this? What? This was boring for a song that should have made me feel excited. Or something. Anything.

Girl of an Age

Scott (4 points)

Their pace went down again. Probably the most melodic and musical of the album. And I dig it

Weh-Ming’s Comment

Bert and Ernie sample? Edgy… and then just kind of falls flat. If you’re going to use classic Sesame Street characters in your song, you better step up your game.

Longtime

Scott (3 points)

I really like the guitar in this one. Paced down I enjoy their work so much more. This one is probably the most sparse in its arrangement and benefits from it. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but a lot of the songs on this album are far too busy for me.

Weh-Ming’s Comment

Seriously, did I listen to the wrong album? Where are you getting that from? By this point, I really just wanted out, so the fact that you found value here… Yeah… I don’t know. Again, the start of the song was great, but just didn’t hold together for me.

Travelling Not Running

Scott (2 points)

Neat opening. Ahhhh, some room for the instruments to breathe. Bringing the pace down and leaving space to actually process what’s playing serves it well. The orchestral hits date it a bit, but I think it weathers the years well other than that. 

Weh-Ming’s Comment

It’s artistic, but is it art?

A spoken word poem song? Meh, didn’t do anything for me. Doesn’t offend me, but doesn’t make me want to listen to it.

Long Summer Days

Scott (1 point)

This starts off like a NIN song from Pretty Hate Machine. It’s still pretty manic but there is a bit more room for the guitar to play in this one. I like it. Their genre is very hard to pin down – I’ve seen Alternative Dance thrown around for them and I suppose that fits better than most. This song actually brings Bloc Party’s excellent Silent Alarm to mind.

Weh-Ming’s Comment

Good job of transitioning from the previous song, and you know I like that.

Energetic, but I don’t know if I love it. It has a bit of late 80’s new wave sound, but switches up so much that I don’t know what to follow. If I had to give a point, it would have been here probably. But I don’t have to. So I didn’t.


Final Thoughts

Scott

A good portion of this album is simply at a pace that I didn’t enjoy – it’s fast, busy and frantic. Those songs don’t really allow any space for the sounds to breathe. Thankfully, there are enough tracks where they drop the pace enough for me to enjoy them. These slower tracks let the instruments express themselves in ways that they’re just not able to in the manic tracks. Or maybe I’m just getting old.

So a weird thing happened during this review process. 99% of the time when I listen to these albums, it’s through headphones. They aren’t the best headphones, but they’re a pretty nice planar magnetic set, with a dedicated DAC and a more than capable headphone amp. Normally this lets me hear more of the songs than I normally would, as there’s plenty of clarity and depth. But I did not enjoy this album on headphones – it felt claustrophobic, way too busy and often strident. When I played it over good ole’ speakers for a second playthrough, I enjoyed it much more. I think the bass having a bit more low-end really grounded some of the tracks in a way that was missing through the headphones. I guess sometimes you need to feel the bass.

Overall, I liked the album less than I had hoped I would, but more than I had feared I might. I feel I need to clarify something – a 5 point track doesn’t mean I loved it. It just means that of the five songs on an album that I enjoyed the most and wouldn’t mind being tossed onto a personal playlist, it is my favourite. None of these tracks made me sit up and really take notice – but I enjoyed my point tracks. 

To sum up – I didn’t love this album, but there were songs on it that I enjoyed. They’re growing on me a bit – I might even <gasp> add them to a Playlist or two.

Weh-Ming

I was shocked by how divergent our takes were on this. I expected both of us to have similar feelings. Imagine my surprise when I found out that my esteemed colleague changed the rules.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, of the jury. I submit to you that Scott (points at Scott) – let the record show that I’m pointing at Scott – is NOT presenting his feelings of the album in an entirely upfront and honest manner! 

Collective gasp from the jury. 

Yes, you heard me correctly. I will prove without a shadow of a doubt that Scott (points at Scott) – let the record show that I’m pointing at Scott – DID start recording his thoughts of each song during his first listen. And that during that first listen, Scott (points at Scott) – let the record show that I’m pointing at Scott – DID NOT, in fact, enjoy the album. 

More gasping from the jury. Juror #5 starts fanning herself.

You’re probably asking yourself (points at you) – let the record show I’m pointing at you – “how is this possible?” How indeed? How is it possible that Scott (points at Scott) – let the record show that I’m pointing at Scott – could listen to the album on his first listen, not enjoy it, and then find not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, wait I went too far, find five COUNT THEM FIVE songs that were of above average quality AND worthy of points.

Juror #5 appears to have the vapors. The rest of the jury are literally on the edge of their court appointed seats.

How is this possible? Is this some trick? Some sort of deceit or perhaps subterfuge? Or was Scott (points at Scott) – let the record show that I’m pointing at Scott – bribed by EMF to provide a much better review than he was going to initially? And if so, how much was that bribe and as co-creator of this site, I’d like to remind him that I am entitled to half of all bribes.

NO, ladies and gentlemen, Scott (points at Scott) – let the record show that I’m pointing at Scott – did nothing of the sort. Instead, he admits that he listened to the album A SECOND TIME. Just moments ago, he said:

“When I played it over good ole’ speakers for a second playthrough, I enjoyed it much more.”

Juror #5 faints, Jurors #4 and #6 attempt to revive her. There is bedlam in the audience, reporters crush each other in a race to get through the door to be the first to file the story.

Yes, that’s right. He listened to it again and I know it because he told me so even after previously telling me that he wasn’t enjoying the songs either. 

No, Scott (points at Scott) – let the record show that I’m pointing at Scott – you are the one who is “Unbelievable”!

(Scott’s Note:  We both listen to the songs multiple times per week to establish ranking / flesh out notes. I feel bad for Juror #5.)


Yeah But What Else

Scott

Down the Rabbit Hole (Additional listening inspired by this week’s review.)

Bloc Party – “Like Eating Glass” – Separated by 14 years, I can hear a bit of EMF in them, even if their debut album Silent Alarm is a far better album overall than Schubert Dip.

Jesus Jones – “Right Here, Right Now” – Off of their sophomore album, this was in every commercial for every product for roughly 10 years (this is a bit of an exaggeration, but not as much of one as it seems it should be.)

The Farm – “Groovy Train” – Alt Dance, you say? Well get on the groovy train, my friends.

Weh-Ming

“Weird Al” used “Unbelievable” as part of his medley in “Polka Your Eyes Out”. Here’s the list of songs used on that polka, and you can see the last one is Vanilla Ice. 

Cradle Of Love (Billy Idol) 

Tom’s Diner (Suzanne Vega) 

Love Shack (The B-52s)

Pump Up The Jam (Technotronic) 

Losing My Religion (R.E.M.)

Unbelievable (EMF) 

Do Me! (Bel Biv Devoe)

Enter Sandman (Metallica)

The Humpty Dance (Digital Underground) 

Cherry Pie (Warrant) 

Miss You Much (Janet Jackson)

I Touch Myself (Divinyls) 

Dr. Feelgood (Motley Crue)

Ice Ice Baby (Vanilla Ice)

2 Comments

  1. I do remember this album. And the summer it was released. It seemed like somewhere between the Charlton’s, and the Stone Roses. But I do believe without emf, groups like Jesus Jones wouldn’t have been able to uk radio plan afterwards.

    Like

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