Johnny Football Hero are a new-ish emo trio from Philly (named after a lyric from Nada Surf's "Popular") who formed in 2018 out of the ashes of guitarist/vocalist James McGill's previous band The Dispersions, released their debut album Long Walk Off the Short Pier in 2019, and gigged like crazy until the pandemic hit. After it did, Johnny Football Hero had a new lineup change, welcoming bassist/vocalist Addison Rider into the fold, and this past July they put out their second release, a six-song, 25+ minute record called Complacency, which has deservingly been stirring up some buzz.
Underneath the musically diverse umbrella of emo's latest wave, Johnny Football Hero stand out with a sound that fits right in but doesn't really sound much like what most other emo bands are doing right now. A lot of times, they remind of me of that era in the early 2000s when a bunch of flamboyant, theatrical emo bands cropped up in the wake of At The Drive In, The Blood Brothers, and Glassjaw, yet they owe just as much to the modern-day emo-pop of a band like Origami Angel. They work in mathy '90s Midwest emo, classic rock guitar heroism, atmospheric post-rock, basement-sized screamo, arena-sized power pop, and more, and they manage to do all of this in just six songs without ever overloading their sound. Like the latest releases by emo fifth wavers Home Is Where and Hey, ily, Complacency packs a ton of musical ambition into a short running time, and that's a trait that's really tied a lot of these post-lockdown releases together. They may not all sound alike, but the time off the road and in the studio has presumably allowed a lot of these newer bands to progress their sounds far more quickly than we're used to seeing from small DIY bands. It's an exciting time for this kind of music right now, with seemingly-monumental releases coming out almost every other week. Complacency is the latest one to give me that feeling.