It Looks Sad Credit: Lauren Woods

Shortly after Carolinas indie label Tiny Engines launched in 2008, it became a crucial outlet for the burgeoning fourth-wave emo scene, releasing material by bands such as Tigers Jaw, Restorations, and The Hotelier, which began breaking out in the mid-2010s. A few years ago, the label began to aggressively expand beyond the sounds that characterized its early years, and in the process inadvertently highlighted the ways many contemporary punk and indie-rock outfits borrow from emo. But It Looks Sad, a melancholic duo from Charlotte, North Carolina, lean on UK postpunk for their mope quota more than anything that could be described as emo (though I do hear strains of the latter). On their debut album, November’s Sky Lake (yes, on Tiny Engines), It Looks Sad mold shoegaze fog, plastic percussion loops, and trim, cold guitar melodies into glum, oddly triumphant indie-rock tunes. At their best moments, such as on their blue-hued single “Faded,” they hit the same hard-to-pin-down sweet spot as (Sandy) Alex G—one where indie-rock magic can only happen with a touch of emo.   v