The debut album by Portland, OR's Skiploader is textbook early emo, from guitarist Tom Ackerman's nasal, artless vocals and the oblique but unmistakably mopey lyrics to the angular rhythms and tightly wound guitar sounds. Heck, even the T-shirts-and-glasses look of the band was utterly demonstrative of the style. Although parts of Sprainy sound somewhat dated in retrospect, after the seemingly hundreds of other albums that have mined the spot where Fugazi and the Pixies meet, it's a solid album overall. The ratio of rock to whine on songs like the aggressive opener, "Laughter Is My Best Friend," keeps to the right side, and even Ackerman's most melodramatic lyrics are nothing compared to some of the howlers that followed in this style's path. If just the thought of middle-class white kids yelling about their inconsolable psychic trauma gives you hives, Sprainy should be avoided, but although many lesser bands quickly became more famous than Skiploader (who made the rookie mistake of signing to a major label that had no idea what to do with them), this is an early example of what emo was capable of.
by Stewart Mason