You can only break a heart so many ways. That’s the problemfacing today’s glut of emo bandsopen-tuned guitars,weepy lyrics, and fan sing-alongs won’t separate you from themaudlin pack. To combat this musical malaise, a new crop ofinstrumentally ambitious groups has emerged, bringing a classicalsensibility to teenage breakup anthems. Though none has (as of yet)adopted what has been scientifically determined to be the most emoof classical instrumentsthe oboethe followinginstruments add an ineffable touch of class to songs that mightotherwise wallow in the indignities of study hall.
Practitioners: Something Corporate, Murder by Death, Straylight Run
Relevant predecessors: Franz Liszt, Elton John, Schroeder from Peanuts
Pros: Since you’re already wearing glasses, sittingand tickling the ivories makes you look even more bookish, wounded, and(sym)pathetic.
Cons: Vanessa Carlton
Cryability rating: High. Something Corporate singerAndrew McMahon is so impassioned about saving sad-eyed coeds that hestands up while bashing the keys. Kinda like Jerry Lee Lewis, but with13-year-old fans instead of a 13-year-old wife.
Relevant predecessors: Itzhak Perlman, Charlie Daniels, the second-prettiest Corr
Pros: Providing a sound even higher-pitched, whinier, and more annoying than the singer’s voice makes him sound downright melodic.
Cons: There is no way to make this look cool. Really.
Cryability rating: Low-unless you’re Yellowcard’s bassist, who must get poked in the eye with alarming frequency.
Practitioners: Cursive, Murder by Death
Relevant predecessors: The tortured son in Ingmar Bergman’s Smiles of a Summer Night
Pros: Rich, dramatic sound adds texture to songs about how sex is so very confusing.
Cons: Explaining the cello case to the bouncers at CBGB
Cryability rating: Medium-but it’s the only way you’re gonna get a girl into an emo band outside of federal quotas.