Sunny Day Real Estate
(Sub Pop, 1994)
Forget the Hot Topic-harnessed definition of emo for a second. In our office, that word hinges on Sunny Day Real Estate’s dagger-drawing debut, a record that reveals its mission statement right in the middle of its second song, “In Circles”: “And I dream/ To heal your wounds/ But I bleed myself/ I bleed myself.”
As whiny as those lyrics may look on a laptop screen, they cut like a rather unforgiving knife in the hands of Jeremy Enigk, a frontman who was born to bear the weight of a thousand kids in cardigan sweaters. That includes everything from a piano-led ballad that doesn’t bore us to tears (“Pheurton Skeurto”) to a power ballad that bleeds Enigk dry (“Song About An Angel”).