As the title of a classic album by defunct foursome the Promise Ring, Nothing Feels Good defined an aesthetic that has actually become rare in emo: the celebration of feeling-qua-feeling. Today, fans of the platinum-selling Dashboard Confessional use indie rock and sprawling, cyber-social networks to help cope with—and sometimes further churn—mixed emotions. Greenwald, a senior contributing writer at Spin and acquaintance of mine, chronicles emo’s trajectory and how the Web has bolstered it. He focuses on teenagers who thrive on typically adolescent turbulence, whether they find it by joining kid-id-driven online communities like makeoutclub.com or downloading Saves the Day songs.
Which is not to say that Greenwald gets any of this, including the Promise Ring, wrong. I was just knocking his book’s title. While dry for those not interested in Blake Schwarzenbach’s mid-’90s personal turmoil (which, as an unreconstructed emo boy, I find fascinating) or Chris Carraba’s after-show antics (one beer! staying up past three talking quietly!), the book will engross young fans and the culturally curious with its blend of filthy gossip, detailed research, sturdy analysis, and—most important—empathy. The music and message boards of today’s messy teen lives rarely make this much sense.