Review Summary: The Avett Brothers blend bluegrass, pop, and rock seamlessly into an awesome emotional journey of an album.
To be completely honest, I had never heard of The Avett Brothers before this album; despite the fact that they hail from Charlotte, North Carolina, my own hometown. The simple fact that I had never heard of them intrigued me greatly, and even today, they are conspicuously absent from the typical Indie listener's catologue. The Avett Brothers seem to use this factor to their advantage in Emotionalism, where they combine Bluegrass, Beatles-stylings pop, and Folk music to create an Emotional Roller-Coaster ride through their charming obscurity.
The album starts off with "Die Die Die", a song about what comes after death. The Avett Brothers immediately jump into the tough topics with this start, yet they pull it off magnificently. It starts off with a charming verse and chorus and then explodes into vocal overlays and harmonies. It begins to satire these songs about life after death (or lack thereof) subtly poking fun at the seriousness of the issue with their child-like attitude regarding the subject. The next few tracks blend almost seamlessly into each other with undeniably catchy and accessible tunes like "Shame" and "The Weight of Lies". Each song complete with their own quirkiness and character. The Banjo-picking and vocal interludes of "Paranoia in B-Flat Major" show off the versatility of the band, which sounds like what Sinatra would sound like if he grew up in the Carolinas. The bridge of the song introduces incredibly high-pitched la-dee-das as the brothers harmonize and show off their vocal abilities.
As the album progresses the brothers exhibit their songwriting maturity in "The Ballad of Love and Hate". As the track title suggests, it's a ballad...and a very good one at that. The brothers use personification to present Love as a forgiving, patient wife and Hate as an inconsiderate alcoholic, husband:
Love writes a letter and sends it to hate.
My vacations ending. I'm coming home late.
The weather was fine and the ocean was great
and I can't wait to see you again.
Hate reads the letter and throws it away.
"No one here cares if you go or you stay.
I barely even noticed that you were away.
I'll see you or I won't, whatever."
The album gets no weaker towards the end, with great tracks such as "All my Mistakes" and "Living of Love" showcasing the band's musicianship and technical skill. Every song has it's own uniqueness and originality, yet still following the theme of Emotionalism. Beautiful harmony and melody are commonplace throughout the album, which results in a very accessible and rewarding piece of art that is Emotionalism. The only small critique I have, and the only thing keeping this from being a classic is that it can get a little corny at times. Still, I urge you to try out The Avett Brothers' Emotionalism, as the blugrass/pop stylings and arrangements will have you coming back for more.