5 Russian Bands Giving the Next Emo Revival a Run For Its Money
If we’re due for another wave of emo soon, we’re looking somewhere colder than Eastern Pennsylvania.
Russian emo is here, and it’s unlike anything we’ve ever heard before. We’ve had plenty of emo revivals across the years, and lots of innovation between each wave. The first movement set the stage, the second brought us mallcore and Dashboard Confessional, the third brought us edgier groups like Title Fight and Topshelf Records, and the fourth gave us a mix of post-rock and big bands with vibrant storytelling and mythological lyricism.
However, Russian emo is different. Different influences brought about different sounds and styles of recording, which in turn developed into new brands of emo. It’s incredible seeing what kind of music people around the world are creating, and it’s even more incredible knowing that we can share it with each other. Hence, this list.
Although there are lots of different aspects of emo music, it’s important to recognize that each is equally relevant under the emo umbrella. For that reason, this list will include a few unsuspecting variants of emo, including new wave sound-alikes, screamo, and more.
Here are five Russian bands that could very well inspire another emo revival.
Перемотка is a band from the city of Yekaterinburg, Russia, located east of the Ural Mountains. Although the band formed in 2016, they embody a mix of new wave, post-rock, and dreamy indie pop that make it incredibly addicting and relaxing for pretty much every occasion. I came across this group from Bandcamp, and listened to their 2020 album Начало прекрасной дружбы on repeat for a few days at least. This album shows their emo potential best: a mix of tracks that sound like heavily reverbed twee with the singing style of a ’90s indie-rock troubadour. Regardless of how you feel about emo music, Перемотка truly pioneered something beautiful that takes it to the next level, and I cannot recommend them enough.
Self-described “emotional punk,” veresk is a three-piece group from St. Petersburg, Russia that knows how to make killer music and not take themselves too seriously. Their band bio explains that “veresk” is Russian for “heather,” and that “is beautiful but means nothing.” It’s always nice when groups don’t take themselves too seriously, but in veresk’s case they are fully enjoying what they do and it shows. Don’t take my word for it—veresk released an album called Всё на своих местах in 2020, and it feels like a mix of La Dispute guitar riffs, Tigers Jaw vocals, and Fiddlehead energy. Partnered with the fact that they’re on a Spotify playlist called “Russian math rock licks that I can’t even pronounce,” you know you’re in for something good.
Speaking of La Dispute, the group MAяK is doing a damn good job of making sure that singer-screamer, confessional and allegorical styles of music continue for future generations of emo. Although there are a few different bands under the same name, this MAяK released a 2020 album called Срыв that’s (thankfully) available on Spotify. MAяK mixes varying levels of reverb and layered guitars to create beautiful depth of field in their tracks, a style that I learned is reminiscent of most post-Soviet rock (read: indie, emo, punk, etc.) music. La Dispute did a similar thing, but without the reverb, and that’s where MAяK steps up to the plate—all the tracks on this album are straight bangers that feel like they could come up next on King Park. For that reason and many more, MAяK is absolutely a group to watch.
If you’ve ever listened to The Cure or Young Jesus, you know exactly how a riff (whether vocal or instrumental) can get away from you. That’s something that the group Источник does skillfully. By using a mix of horns, bubblegum choruses, and popcorn synth beats, this Russian group mixes together so many different elements of indie, twee, and emo that it feels like a sugar rush. Aptly so, considering their 2020 album was named POP TRIP and sounded like a mix of Alex G, Nana Grizol, Marietta, and Foxing. Even though those listed bands could also have the “pop” genre label, I think that’s the magic of Источник—they create an organic, all-consuming fusion of pop and emo that feels so seamless. Sprinkle in a touch of Sufjan Stevens or Los Campesinos!, and you’re just about there.
Introducing: every time she lied, a three-piece screamo and emoviolence group from Moscow, Russia. Coincidentally, one of the members of every time she lied is also a member of the previously mentioned MAяK—reinforcing just how good both of those groups are. The other group members were part of an emo group called princess of north sudan, and if you’re a fan of Russian group chants and Run for Cover Records, I think you’d really like that, too. However, the thing that makes every time she lied so interesting is the fact that each track feels like a natural lead-in to the rest of their catalogue. The band only has three official releases on Spotify—each clocking in at under 15 minutes—meaning it’s easy to cycle through timewise. With some other bands, that’s hard to do. Each track sounds remotely different than the previous one, making any sort of consistent listening difficult depending on your situation or mood. Every time she lied is different, and has perfected a style that has lasted them since 2016—something that people work a very long time to achieve.