Review Summary: Like watching The Everglow from a field at night.
Three cheers for knowing your strengths. At the very least, if Mae didn't know them before (e)vening
, they should do now. (m)orning
were to varying degrees experimental and flawed, exposing major chinks in the armour of a band which had, up to that point, seemed to carry confidence and poise which allowed them to pull off concepts and songs as universal and grandiose as those on The Everglow
without a hint of awkwardness. Maybe it's that the evening provides the most comfortable aesthetic fit for Mae's sound; waves of soft riffs and simply stunning piano always having formed the best backdrop to their sound; just listen to 'The Sun And The Moon' and you'll see what I mean.
So in a gesture of defiance to the musical elitist inside me and among us, I find it an absolute honour to declare that Mae should stop seeing themselves as a band capable of, or indeed desiring of, pushing boundaries. I say this with such certainty only because (e)vening
is so phenomenal and no number of musical risks would or could make it better, and it is therefore my duty to inform the band that if they wish to keep pulling softly at the hand of the still-breathing romantic inside me, they already have all the tools necessary. See the 'Seasons' suite: a thirteen-minute, three-movement group of songs comprising just a piano. Erm, no vocals. Just
piano. So I guess you'd call it a classical piece if it weren't so undeniably Mae.
And the 'real' songs on (e)vening
fare just as well, re-introducing listeners to the band's sublime and delicate ability to balance transcendent, wide-reaching emotion with real human impulses. Lyricist and vocalist Dave Elkin is laid-back here, even when he's at his most adamant; neither the sounds around him nor the feelings inside him can sway him from his most effortless performance yet in a Mae shirt. The music plays likewise, even the up-tempo and guitar-driven 'I Just Needed You To Know' finding a groove rather than a momentum by virtue of it's spacious verses and overlapping guitars.
As if to consolidate the musically relaxed texture, (e)vening
is also perfectly structured, easing you in with an instrumental track, kicking into three superb pop-rock cuts, morphing into easily the most gorgeous 15 minutes of the year so far in 'Seasons' and finishing up with a bang. It's a return to form that finds Mae doing exactly what they do best, asking questions like, "Do you remember watching fireworks?" and following them up with, "As we looked into the sky I made my plans. I did my best to put my love in words, when I knelt down at your feet and took your hand." And despite how easy it is to digest these songs, they're actually damn heavy with feeling, just like everything good in Mae's back catalogue. Chalk this one up as a victory for staying within your comfort zone if you like, but don't miss the chance to feel completely safe alongside it.