Home Read Classic Album Review: The Promise Ring | Wood/Water

Classic Album Review: The Promise Ring | Wood/Water

The Milwaukee emo quartet drastically alter their sound on their striking fifth release.


This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Before this album, Promise Ring singer Davey von Bohlen reportedly went under the knife four times to remove a brain tumour as big as his fist. That’s gotta make you re-evaluate your life and priorities — or so it would seem from the drastically altered state of his band on their striking fifth album.

Wood/Water finds the Milwaukee quartet overhauling their youthful emo-punk sound for a deeper, more mature approach. Gone are the bouncy, happy hooks of their last few albums. In their place are gorgeous songs like Stop Playing Guitar, Size Of Your Life and Get On The Floor, loaded with bittersweet moods, introspective lyrics, midtempo rhythms, gracefully soaring melodies, grandly sweeping strings and the lavish, richly textured sound of former Smiths producer Stephen Street. How much of this is due to von Bohlen’s experience is unclear. But whatever the impetus, Wood/Water is a breathtaking achievement and Promise Ring’s most fascinating and inspired work.