Review Summary: A risky and ambitious concept album that is too long & uninvolving.
In golf parlance, Evermore’s debut album ‘Dreams’ was an admirable putt that missed by a few inches to the left. Follow-up ‘Real Life’ played it so safe that it fell about two feet short. In comparison, their ungainly titled third release ‘Truth Of The World: Welcome To The Show’ is an absolute bullet struck directly at the hole, but eventually over-reaching it by a good foot. In other words, while the album’s risk and ambition should be applauded and is intermittently interesting, the methods used in achieving their objective are unfortunately off the mark.
If you could not already tell from the LP’s title, this is yet another in the growing number of concept albums to flood the market. But where-as most such releases are half-hearted & compromised excuses for focus & direction, ‘Truth Of The World’ sees Evermore stick rigidly to the storyline. Regrettably, it is far too rigidly. One of the main issues is the storyline itself, which sees a futuristic media network manipulate the population to the point of control. Somewhere along the way, a minor rebels and is subsequently controlled by medication. On paper, it seems simple enough, but on record, it is convoluted, over-complicated and ultimately only sporadically involving.
A variety of techniques are used in order to sell the concept, with the first two tracks highlighting a number. Opener ‘Plugged In’ contains spoken sound-bytes over a Muse-like electro-rock riff & beat, while the following ‘Tonight On The Show’ is predominantly a piano balled that introduces the character of Donovan Earl as the network’s anchor. Even at this stage a number of problems arise, with over-length being the main culprit. What could have been done in 4 minutes takes 9, with the latter track practically superseding the former. This concern plagues the album throughout with most tracks stretching out far too long. In keeping with the theme, the album too often requires a director to yell “cut” over its 63 minute duration.
There are also some lyrical issues that appear early and basically continue through to the end. ‘Truth Of The World’ is a rather political album with Evermore uncharacteristically commenting on many of society’s current concerns. Along with the power of media, topics such as corruption, global warming and commercialism are covered. Even the war on terror gets a mention with it being referred to as the “war of trial and error”! Yet, it’s not necessarily the topics that are the problem, but the delivery of them, which comes off as forced and awkward… Especially some of the rhymes.
‘Truth Of The World’ is by no means a write-off however and does have its strengths. Even if Evermore have over-stepped the boundaries of their talent here, they have undoubtedly progressed as a band. They have not played it safe, nor have they regressed. Instead, they actually show occasional hints of genius in amongst intricately layered sounds and a genre mix that can best be described as synth-heavy arena pop-rock. Take for example, the effective African rhythms of ‘Diamonds In The River’, the lush soundscapes of ‘Chemical Miracle’, or even the theme song of sorts that is ‘Infotainmentology’. Unfortunately, even these tracks are hindered by feeling incomplete and/or pigeon-holed, despite lengthy running times.
There are a few occasions where the kiwi trio does get it right though. Lead single ‘Between The Lines’ is what the band should have been aiming for; up-beat electro-rock with enough traces of Evermore’s past to satisfy both old & new fans. Furthermore, the more subtle - although still relevant - lyrical content has the advantage of being both less forced and open to interpretation. Similarly, ‘Everybody’s Doing It’ mixes the old (piano) with the new (electronica) to add depth to their previous simplicity. 2nd single ‘Hey Boys and Girls’ then leans more towards poppy hooks via everything from handclaps to backing “woo woo’s” and an easily recitable falsetto sung chorus.
In keeping with this album’s concept, listening to ‘Truth Of The World: Welcome To The Show’ is like watching a television show that is half made up of advertisements. If you are one of those people who enjoy watching such breaks, then you may have the patience to fully enjoy this release. However, if you are one to flip channels during ads, then you are going to struggle with this LPs filler that fails to hold your attention. The concept is simply too complicated & uninvolving, while over-length is the real killer. A nice try, but ultimately a barely passable one.
Recommended Tracks: Between The Lines, Hey Boys and Girls & Everybody’s Doing It.