A Half-Decade Under the Influence: The Best Emo Albums, 2001-2005

Photo by Matthew Keever
Taking Back Sunday at Houston's House of Blues in July 2011
Roughly ten years ago, the emo genre progressed from its underground roots into a calling card for early-'00s rock. And while there's no denying that bands like Rites of Spring and The Promise Ring helped pioneer the sound, the turn of the millennium saw emo transform from into a lifestyle for the decade's misfits, much like New Wave and grunge did for previous generations.

Nowadays, it seems like many might like to forget it ever happened, but the emo subculture of the 2000s was about more than androgynous-looking teenagers with weird haircuts. In fact, the decade actually produced some albums that have managed to stand the test of time, even if that's just nostalgia speaking.

Rocks Off could probably go on a long walk down memory lane, but if we tried to list every modern emo band, we'd be here forever. Instead, we've compiled some of the genre's most important albums, along with a little report card for one of the most polarizing genres in history.

Critical Release:
Full Collapse (2001)

Following its release, Full Collapse became one of the first albums to really kick-start modern-day emo. After that, Thursday went on to record five more studio albums before announcing a hiatus following 2011's No Devolución.

Recently, lead singer Geoff Rickley has been in the news after he was robbed at gunpoint in Brooklyn, where he lives. Drummer Tucker Rule, meanwhile, has been working for UK-based boy band, The Wanted.

Critical Release:
Tell All Your Friends (2002)
When Tell All Your Friends debuted, Taking Back Sunday was relatively unknown outside of their local scene. But with the little help of the video for their single, "Cute Without the 'E'," a clever spin on 1999 cult film Fight Club, the group grew a large underground following.

The following year, John Nolan (guitar/vocals) and bassist Shaun Cooper left the band to form Straylight Run. Since then, Taking Back Sunday has recorded three albums amid dizzying amounts of lineup changes. In 2010, Nolan and Cooper rejoined the band much to the surprise of fans, and have remained in TBS for the release of their fifth studio album, Taking Back Sunday, and 2012 anniversary tour for Tell All Your Friends. The band is currently recording album No. 6.

Critical Release:
The Room's Too Cold (2003)
The Early November are more indie than pop-punk, but still manage to fit our bill. To some, their debut full-length, The Room's Too Cold, is a staple in the emo diet. The Early November took an "indefinite hiatus" shortly after releasing their ambitious three-disc album, The Mother, The Mechanic, The Path in 2006. And despite Ace Enders' solo project, I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody's Business, people still wanted The Early November.

The band reunited in 2011, performed at SXSW 2012, and released their latest album, In Currents, three months later. They are scheduled to perform on this year's Vans Warped Tour. Godspeed.



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I know I'm a year late on this, but I believe The Everglow by Mae should be on there in some form or another. Quintessentially perfect. 

Sheena Williams
Sheena Williams

Omg I knew so many people who were all on The Used bandwagon due to that album *eye roll*


The Juliana Theory's Emotion is Dead has got to be up there...ok, so it's a 2000 release...but still, come on. Then no mention of Further Seems Forever or Dashboard Confessional?  This list tends to lean more toward the screamo side, which I thought was a little bit of a spin from the original emo, maybe that's just me though.  That being said, this list makes me quite nostalgic.


My Chemical Romance's first album belongs on this rather than their second, in my opinion .Their first really holds up, it proved that you could put guitar solos in emo. That, and "Skylines & Turnstiles" might be the best song about 9/11 ever written.

Others that should be on here: The Movielife's "This Time Next Year",  Jimmy Eat World's "Bleed American", and Dashboard Confessional's "Swiss Army Romance" (yes, I know it's cool to hate Chris Carraba, but the album is good, I promise). If you had picked the late 90s in this list, of course The Get Up Kid's "Something To Write Home About" would be a great inclusion.

Props on Matchbook Romance. That's truly a great album than many people sadly passed on. Emo died for me in around 2005. That's around the time it became a fashion statement and incessant whining, rather than truely emotional punk rock.


Thanks for this. Brand New will forever bring me back to so many great memories and great people.

CoryGarcia moderator

I'm sure there's a perfectly good reason Bleed American isn't on this list.

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