Review Summary: Did you know that the media is...evil?
Those Hume brothers seemed like lovely young men. As New Zealand pop collective Evermore, the trio unexpectedly scaled to the top of the charts with little numbers such as It’s Too Late, Running and Lights Surrounding You. Whilst these songs (as well as the albums that spawned them, 2004’s Dreams
and 2006’s Real Life
) certainly weren’t terrible, they did feel a little bland after a while. Detractors and critics subsequently agreed…and so, surprisingly, did Evermore themselves.
2009 sees Evermore return with a brand new album…but it’s certainly not what you’re expecting. Truth of the World: Welcome to the Show
sheds the skin of the band’s past completely, instead presenting listeners with a synth-infused, dance-rock concept album. Surprised? You’ll be even more so when you discover they haven’t fallen arse-over-head in their borderline insane ambitions, despite a few stumbles along the way.
The plot of Truth of the World
, like any self-respecting concept album, is gratuitously convoluted and decidedly pretentious. Here’s the deal: we’re in the future, and the entire world has been taken over by a network called Truth of the World – which even has a theme song that’s sung at various points of the record. It’s a CNN-styled 24/7 “newstainment” program, hosted by one Donovan Earl. It seems the only person who is resistant to TOTW’s takeover is a teenager called Max, who has to be medicated in order to keep in line.
Making sense yet? No? No matter – let’s try and focus on the music itself.
Whilst vocalist Jon Hume hasn’t drastically undergone any type of metamorphosis, the instrumentation certainly has. Gone is the twelve-string acoustic strumming, simple rock beat patterns and weak blend of atmospheric keyboards of Evermore records past. This time around, we’re treated to an array of Edge-like guitar licks (Plugged In), Peter’s hard-hitting synth and bass patterns (a surprisingly dominant force on the album) and driving dance beats that occasionally thunder through some stadium-sized fills (see lead single Between the Lines for some especially impressive stick work from Dann).
This sudden shift into an almost polar opposite sound from previously certainly sounds a little uncomfortable at times, as would be expected. When Truth of the World is on the mark, however, we’re treated to some damn fine pop music. Hey Boys and Girls bops along with Billie Jean drums and shout-along catchiness, faltered only slightly by a not-fully-realised falsetto. Meanwhile, Diamonds in the River and Everybody’s Doing It fuse in soulful vocals with lyrical paranoia. It’s in accordance with the story and concept of the record – the former from the perspective of an ignored world war, the latter pressuring the album’s protagonist into aligning themselves with Truth of the World
(as mentioned, it’s not the easiest plot to follow).
These standouts give one the impression that Evermore is well on their way to giving listeners a totally satisfying record. Sadly, however, it’s not something that the brothers three were able to achieve on Truth of the World
. For one thing, it’s decidedly overlong, and in desperate need of an editor for both the amount of tracks (let’s clip off Chemical Miracle and Girl With the World on Her Shoulders, at the very least) and the overall concept of the record itself (which should be the strong point- it is, after all, a concept album that thrives on telling a story).
The themes of the record have also been truly done to death in the past – namely the record’s most obvious influence, U2’s 1993 release Zooropa
. Yes, we understand just how big the media influence is on our world and just how evil and deceptive it can be…but was there really a need to dedicate another record to it entirely?
Truth of the World
really is all over the shop. This is a record that changes tact almost as much as it changes its storyline. It occasionally teeters towards excellence, sometimes fumbling the ball significantly with clichéd lyrics. However, it’s almost always presenting listeners with a new and improved sound from Dreams
or Real Life
. You’re on the right track, lads, but let’s not get so paranoid next time…