Emergency & I

Emergency & I
Studio album by The Dismemberment Plan
Released October 26, 1999
Length 45:07
Label DeSoto
Producer J. Robbins, Chad Clark
The Dismemberment Plan chronology
The Dismemberment Plan Is Terrified
Emergency & I

Emergency & I is a 1999 album by American indie rock band The Dismemberment Plan, issued on DeSoto Records. It was produced by J. Robbins and Chad Clark. Reviews for the album were very favorable.

On January 11, 2011, Barsuk Records reissued the vinyl edition of Emergency & I, which includes an oral history of the band conducted by The A.V. Club's Josh Modell.[1]


In 1998, The Dismemberment Plan signed a record deal with Interscope Records. Emergency & I was recorded during the band's time with Interscope and was meant to be the first of the two albums they would record with the label.[2] Using the money from Interscope, the album was recorded at Water Music Studios in Hoboken, New Jersey.[3]

Some songs went through different stages during recording. "Spider in the Snow" was originally going to have real strings. However, Travis Morrison thought that using strings was "too fancy" and decided to use Casio keyboards instead. "What Do You Want Me To Say" was originally going to have turntable scratching, but the plan was scrapped after producer Chad Clark thought using samples was kitsch. Chad Clark also originally did not want "You Are Invited" to be on Emergency & I, finding the song too sentimental.[3]

Lyrical themes

Popmatters' Zachary Houle noted that the album had themes of growing pains experienced by people in their 20s.[4] Jeremy Larson of Consequence of Sound noted the influence of Stephen Malkmus on the album's lyrics.[5] Paul Thompson of Pitchfork Media related the album title to the encroaching chaos of modern life with the self.[6]

With regards to individual songs, the track "Back and Forth" is based on Bob Dylan's "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)."[7] "You Are Invited," a song about an anonymous invitation that comes through the mail, deals with belonging and selflessness.[5] "The City" deals with Morrison's loneliness living in a city, his longing for a wanderlust lover, and his inability to leave the city without abandoning everything that makes him who he is.[8] Zachary Houle argued that songs such as "Memory Machine" and "What Do You Want Me to Say?" deals with themes of disconnectedness in the information age, including predicting the social media phenomenon that would be prominent in the following decade.[4]


When Geffen Records and A&M Records merged into Interscope in 1999, Universal Music Group announced that they would cut numerous artists from Interscope.[2] The Dismemberment Plan were one of the artists affected by the cut. In turn, the band decided to release Emergency & I on their former label DeSoto Records.[9]

2011 reissue

The band originally wanted Emergency & I to be released on vinyl back in 1999, but decided against that after seeing that vinyl was not a commercially viable option. After seeing a resurgence in vinyl records, the band decided to release the album on vinyl in 2011. Morrison cited sound quality and packaging as reasons he wanted it to be a vinyl release.[10]

The vinyl reissue came with 4 bonus tracks. "Since You Died" was the B-side to the vinyl 7-inch release of "What Do You Want Me To Say" that came out before Emergency & I was recorded. "Just Like You" was originally released on the compilation EP Ft. Reno Benefit Compilation. "The First Anniversary Of Your Last Phone Call" was originally released on The Ice Of Boston EP. "The Dismemberment Plan Gets Rich" was originally from Juno & The Dismemberment Plan, a split EP between Juno and The Dismemberment Plan.[10][11]

Reception and legacy

Professional ratings
Review scores
Alternative Press4/5[13]
Consequence of SoundA+[5]
Pitchfork9.6/10 (1999)[14]
10/10 (2011)[15]
Rolling Stone[16]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[17]
Tiny Mix Tapes5/5[19]
The Village VoiceA−[20]

Critical response

Emergency & I received overwhelming critical acclaim. The album has been described by Rolling Stone as "a game-changer for indie rock fans,"[21] and Pitchfork Media describes it as "one of indie's key LPs."[15] Glide Magazine called the album "[The Dismemberment Plan's] landmark masterstroke, still cited by many bands and critics as a turning point in the evolution of indie rock."[22]

Brent DiCrescenzo of Pitchfork originally gave the album a 9.6 out of 10, with a short review that read simply, "If you consider yourself a fan of groundbreaking pop, go out and buy this album right now. Now. Get up. Go."[14] Ned Raggett of AllMusic called the album a "firecracker" which shows the band's "at once passionate and sly approach to music—take in everything, put it back out, and give it its own particular sheen and spin—is in no danger of letting up."[12] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice wrote "The only way they're [The Dismemberment Plan] punk anymore is that there aren't very many of them and that none of them seems to be playing a keyboard even though most of them can. What they are instead is a much rarer thing [...] thoughtful, quirky, mercurial young adults skilled at transforming doubt into music."[20]

Accolades and retrospective reviews

Emergency & I was ranked the best album of 1999 by Pitchfork.[23] On the same website, the album was ranked #16 their "redux" version of the Top 100 Albums of the 1990s list, with William Morris writing "The album's lyric book reads better than half the modern volumes on my bookshelf. Modern R&B should have as much rhythm. Modern rock should have as much balls."[24] In addition, the website ranked the track "The City" #64 on their list of the Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s.[8]

The album's 2011 vinyl reissue brought about numerous positive reviews as well. Zachary Houle of PopMatters wrote that "Just in terms of a sheer personal enjoyment factor, I would almost argue the case for a new rating: the Spinal Tap-esque 11. Emergency & I is just a relentless record, full of youthful abandon and insightful penetrations into the technology-addled brain. I just can’t get enough of it."[4] In another review of the reissue, Consequence of Sound's Jeremy Larson wrote: "The Plan colors this record with 12 songs that serve as hitching posts for whatever ails you. Life medicine never sounded better ... Emergency & I continues to arch its influence even after a 12-year gap."[5] Pitchfork gave the reissue a perfect 10/10 with a "best new reissue" designation,"[15] while Sputnikmusic's Alex Robertson rated the album "classic" with a perfect 5.0.[18] The album was ranked at number 26 on Spin's "The 300 Best Albums of the Past 30 Years (1985–2014)" list.[25]

Track listing

All music composed by Travis Morrison, Jason Caddell, Eric Axelson and Joe Easley.

No. Title Length
1. "A Life of Possibilities"   4:34
2. "Memory Machine"   2:43
3. "What Do You Want Me to Say?"   4:18
4. "Spider in the Snow"   3:50
5. "The Jitters"   4:19
6. "I Love a Magician"   2:38
7. "You Are Invited"   4:52
8. "Gyroscope"   2:29
9. "The City"   4:26
10. "Girl O'Clock"   2:54
11. "8½ Minutes"   2:57
12. "Back and Forth"   5:07

"A Life of Possibilities", "What Do You Want Me to Say?", "The Jitters" and "The City" are all also featured in remixed form on A People's History of the Dismemberment Plan with bonus tracks "Just Like You" and "The First Anniversary Of Your Last Phone Call" being on The Ice Of Boston EP.



  1. Modell, Josh. The Dismemberment Plan to reunite for East Coast tour, issue Emergency & I on vinyl. The A.V. Club. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  2. 1 2 Segal, David. Archive: The Dismemberment Plan's dalliance with Interscope Records. Washington Post. 20 February 1999. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  3. 1 2 Richards, Chris. Be specific: Chad Clark, co-producer of the Dismemberment Plan's "Emergency & I," on how the album might have been very different. Washington Post. 21 January 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Houle, Zachary (April 26, 2011). "The Dismemberment Plan's "Emergency & I": A Record of Colossal Possibilities". PopMatters. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Larson, Jeremy (January 21, 2011). "The Dismemberment Plan – Emergency & I (Reissue)". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved December 23, 2011.
  6. Thompson, Paul. The Dismemberment Plan Emergency & I (Vinyl Reissue). Pitchfork Media. 11 January 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  7. Hansen, Liane. The Dismemberment Plan: Back In Business. NPR. 23 January 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  8. 1 2 Pitchfork: Staff Lists: The Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s: 100-51. Pitchfork Media. 1 September 2010. Retrieved 14 June 2011
  9. McMahan, Tim. LazyEye Interview: The Dismemberment Plan. 9 March 2000. Retrieved 15 June 2011
  10. 1 2 Ray, Austin. The Dismemberment Plan’s Travis Morrison. The A.V. Club. 12 January 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  11. 1 2 The Dismemberment Plan Music. The Dismemberment Plan. Retrieved 15 June 2011
  12. 1 2 Raggett, Ned. "Emergency & I – The Dismemberment Plan". AllMusic. Retrieved September 26, 2009.
  13. "The Dismemberment Plan: Emergency & I". Alternative Press (139): 79. February 2000.
  14. 1 2 DiCrescenzo, Brent (September 30, 1999). "The Dismemberment Plan: Emergency & I". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  15. 1 2 3 Thompson, Paul (January 11, 2011). "The Dismemberment Plan: Emergency & I [Vinyl Reissue]". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  16. Dolan, Jon (February 3, 2011). "Emergency & I". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
  17. Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 243–44. ISBN 0-743-20169-8.
  18. 1 2 Robertson, Alex (September 17, 2009). "The Dismemberment Plan – Emergency & I". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  19. Tamec. "The Dismemberment Plan – Emergency & I". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
  20. 1 2 Christgau, Robert (March 28, 2000). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
  21. Jon Dolan (2011-02-03). "Emergency I | Album Reviews". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  22. "The Dismemberment Plan - Celebrating An Emergency". Glide Magazine. 2011-03-07. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  23. Pitchfork Staff Lists: Top 10 Albums of 1999. Pitchfork Media. 1 January 2001. Retrieved 14 June 2011
  24. "Pitchfork: Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1990s". Pitchfork Media. 2003-11-17. Retrieved 2009-09-26.
  25. Weiss, Dan (May 11, 2015). "The 300 Best Albums of the Past 30 Years (1985-2014)". Spin. p. 5. Retrieved August 6, 2015.

External links

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