Review Summary: The World We Know is a fun, smooth ride through Ace Enders' poetic mind.
Ace Enders would have trouble making bad music. With his career with The Early November he showed that he had both solid writing skills and one of the more soothing voices in the industry. During the moderate success and attention gained from The Early November, he began a side-project under the name I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody's Business. Aside from having a rather ridiculous name, it held a mostly simplistic tone and a unique touch that Enders was hoping to imbue in it to separate himself from his other project. After the self-titled release, Enders went on to make another record with The Early November which would eventually lead to their hiatus. This all builds up to the release of I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody's Business' (which I'll just refer to as Ace Enders from here on out) second album, "The World We Know". With it, Enders brings back everything you've come to expect from him to this point. Groovy, mostly simple guitar work, subtle drums here and there, thoughtful writing, and of course his wonderfully smooth vocals which never fail to hit each note with the utmost precision.
Despite the project's relatively pretentious title, the style in which he presents his music is far from it. The utilization of simplistically enjoyable rhythms really contributes to the album's overall timid feel. It is immediately present on the opening track, "Sleep Means Sleeping", where the guitar keeps the song moving at a steady pace while Enders lays on the crisp vocals. The subtle crescendo in that track is one of the many uses throughout the record ("Old Man", "You're Not So Good At Talking Anymore", "Telling Me Goodbye"), and it really accentuates how Ace is able to shift his voice in whatever direction he sees fit.
The record has a decent length, coming in at forty minutes. Several of the songs range between the three and five minute mark and yet they never seem to drag. One of the core strengths of the album is its substantial song structure. "Old Man", the lengthiest track, keeps your attention with its soothing guitar and Enders providing yet another tidy vocal job. The song builds, adding drums and piano near the end for a very enjoyable listening experience. However, that doesn't mean that the record is filler-free. The second track, "My Hands Hurt", has always come off unnecessary with its brief length and mostly boring music work. This would appear to be the only blatant fault of the record and really sticks out among the other musically stable songs.
It's the up-beat rhythm and catchy drum and guitar work on "Stop Smoking Because It's Not Good For You" that really feel like a nod to Enders' former work. This is in no way a bad thing either. His ability to switch between fun, flowing tunes to slow, melancholy tones in a seamless fashion has always been one of his strongest aspects and it is certainly present here. In complete opposition to that, on the next track, "100 Dollar Bills", he cuts out all the background noise. He makes all the drums feel frivolous when compared to his wonderful utilization of the acoustic guitar. The simple moments such as these really convey the epicenter of his talent -- Smooth vocals and simplistically thoughtful songwriting.
"The World We Know" isn't so much an abstract work of art as much as it is a simple (as if I haven't used that word enough already) display of one man's desire to craft something unique to what he's been known for. While he doesn't stray too far from the sound he's been capitalizing on with The Early November, it is still a solid presentation of how less can be more. Sure, there are a few slip-ups, but for the most part, Ace Enders creates something admirable in its own regard -- A fun, innocent album that doesn't strive for anything that hasn't been done before. Whether you want to criticize it for that or embrace the straightforward experience, it would be hard to not find something to enjoy here. The carefree melodies sprinkled throughout the record can really have you tapping your foot and the slower, melancholic tunes can embrace you with their relatability. My advice would be to take a line from "Baby Steps" in stride. "Shut off and just live for a while".