Thursday, December 6, 2012

Album Review: The Evens - The Odds

Six years. That's how long it's been since The Evens released their last album, Get Evens. On the surface, the songs on the band's third album, The Odds, don't sound too far off from the songs on the first two albums. Sweet melodies, laid-back tempos set by both the drums and baritone guitars, and soft singing provided by both Ian MacKaye and Amy Farina. But when you really dig in to the core of the songs, there are a lot of structural and compositional differences. The Odds finds The Evens experimenting with new sounds, darker tones, and just general loudness. Not that this is a heavy-hitting album in the vein of Minor Threat, but both Ian and Amy raise their voices more on The Odds than they ever did before.

During several moments on the album, there are tracks that play almost like stripped down Fugazi tunes. The guitar playing is intricate, and the two vocalists trade off between each other between verses and chorus, not unlike the way MacKaye would do with Guy Picciotto in Fugazi. Even with that factored in, there's never a moment when it feels like you could be listening to Steady Diet of Nothing instead of this album; it's just The Evens finding a way to expand their sound while still staying stripped down to their two person line up. Among the best of these tracks are "Wanted Criminals", "Warble Factor", and the instrumental "Wonder Why".

The band keeps with their slower, more mellow sound that they've established with their first two albums as well. "I Do Myself" and "Competing with the Till" are more in line with their usual fare, although the latter incorporates the usage of jarring sounds (with what sounds like a horn of some sort), giving it weird, almost experimental jazz feel- a very common Dischord Records touch.

Perhaps it's just the six year gap between albums and a hazy memory, but Farina's vocals on The Odds far exceeds her previous performances. Her vocals have become incredibly powerful and when she takes the lead (such as on "Warble Factor", and "Broken Finger"), the strength of her voice is awe-inspiring.

Compared to the new Bad Brains album, Into the Future, and its desire to hold on to the past, it's an interesting look as to how differently 80's hardcore icons have grown up. While the music on The Odds is clearly still rooted in the established sound of 2005's The Evens, and 2006's Get Evens, Ian MacKaye and Amy Farina have branched out and tried new things, and the end result is an album that utilizes elements that are almost the opposite of what the band has done before. The Odds is by far the most appropriate title for this album.

Buy It!

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