A big misconception among emo-core bands is that hardcore punk is the best musical vehicle with which to translate their earnestness. They believe the severity of their anguish and longing to be tangible as a result of tonsil-wrecking screams and bone-bruising dissonance. Instead of studying the Dischord catalog, lonely-hearts-club rockers could convey their turmoil just as effectively—and perhaps even more convincingly—if they took notes on emo’s fabulously cheesy precursors, the arena-rock bands of the 1980s.
Journey and Foreigner were not lost on St. Augustine, Florida’s Moments in Grace. The group absolutely channels the momentum of mullet music on their debut full-length Moonlight Survived. Lead singer-guitarist Jeremy Griffith’s got soaring pipes worthy of Steve Perry, or Kelly Keagy in Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian.” Amid the pop-savvy euphoria of “Stratus,” he’s caught by wind, gliding along in ways peers Thrice and Thursday would never dare. Though Moments in Grace’s industrious drumming and hard-nosed riffs keep the poodle hair at bay, the band eschews grizzly rhythms for prettiness even when singing of loss and regret. Hoist a thousand cigarette lighters, boys, and don’t stop believing.