Hailing from Portland, OR, Cicero began in the mid-00s and called it quits a few years later, only to reform last year. Greg Dimick (Crux, Empty Tomb, Govt Hate Mail) got me a copy of their new album so I could review it, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.
You Can’t Outrun Your Mouth is being advertised as 90s emo, but in some ways that’s a disservice to the band. While there are certainly hints at Midwestern emo, particularly the more subdued Christie Front Drive-take on the genre (listen to “Monsters in Masks” and tell me you don’t hear it), YCOYM is more nuanced than that. There are deep dives into 90s alternative/indie rock and even some lo-fi/slowcore.
Lead-off track “Pandemanial” reminds me of early Pedro the Lion before Bazan went full-on cynic, as does “Fire on the Path.” Some of the tracks–though they don’t sound anything like him/them–bear the emotional weight of Eddie Vedder’s solo work and/or early Pearl Jam. There’s no grunge on the album, but the emotional colors are similar.
Cicero are at their most emo-like on tracks like the aforementioned “Fire in the Path,” especially when lead vocalist Paul Hedrick ditches his low baritone croon in favor of a high-pitched squeal of earnestness:
I just wanna be okay
I just wanna be okay
Man, if you can’t relate to the angst in that, I’m not sure you’re alive. Another track waving the emocore banner is “Morning After Spring,” incidentally the most rocking tune on the album, in contrast to their more subdued, melancholic material.
All in all, this is a great listen. They may have been going for emo, but in some ways what they achieved is better. In fact, I enjoy the album more when I’m not trying to hear it as an emo album, but just as a great indie rock record in its own right. Repeated listenings bear much fruit.
Physical copies come in 3 different colors of cassette tapes. My copy is the gold edition, and the tape along with the inserts comprise a beautiful package altogether. Purchases via Bancamp also include a free download and unlimited streaming. See the link below for ordering info.