Review Summary: Evans Blue's first release makes for one of the most emotional experiences in the rock music genre.Band: Evans Blue
Album: The Melody and the Energetic Nature of Volume
I'll start this review by just saying that this was my favorite album for a couple years, until I discovered Brand New's The Devil and God...
. And that alone goes a long way in describing my taste in music. My favorite albums are those that really hit me emotionally and don't let go. And that was exactly what I needed when I discovered The Melody...
The album kicks off with A Cross and a Girl Named Blessed
, and it establishes within the first minute what is to come with the remaining songs. There are going to be plenty of simple, well-executed guitar riffs, with palm muting in the choruses. The drums are going to drive the music as much as it can. And singer Kevin Matisyn is going to belt out melodramatic lyrics with his unique and dynamic voice. So why bother listening to the music if it's going to be so predictable. Well for most rock bands, predictability becomes a crux that makes many listeners lose interest.
Evans Blue is aware of this fact, and they cut down the repeating parts in the songs to a point that the songs never feel like they're truly getting repetitive. Even in the opening track, the bridge alternates between muted guitars and accentuated drum fills before returning to the chorus. The same song ends on a heavy double bass rhythm, showing what the band is capable of in dramatic fashion. These small changes in structure and dynamics are evident in several of the songs, notably Dark That Follows, The Promise and the Threat, and Quote.
The music is enjoyable and appropriate in most of the songs, but where the album really shines is in the lyrics and vocal performance by Kevin Matisyn. His voice could turn some listeners away; so could Thom York's or Jeff Mangum's. Given a chance Matisyn doesn't waste any time explaining to the audience what he's singing about. The Melody...
is about falling into love quickly and coping with all the scars that it leaves. The lyrics might as well be straight from phone calls and emails between the two in the relationship. For instance, "Can't you see that this is death and death/Is saving me/I say burn all of your bridges/While you still have control of the flame," (Over). Such lyrics may appear lazy in one respect, as if the lyrics were written with only the intention to appear deep, as many bands who claim to have emotional depth do. But save for a few songs (the first and last tracks as well as their cover of Possesion), the album never wavers from this lyrical depth.
The passion in Matisyn's voice and the slowing evolution in the instrumentals continue from song to song, slowly building up. Beg
describes the realization that things are falling apart and the desperation of trying to mend everything, going so far as to say ask, "Have cheap hotels lost their turn on?" The pain reaches a peak when the song reaches its end, and he's left asking, "For how long?" Dark that Follows
never shows a hint of optimism, an accurate depiction of the depression state of grief. Matisyn starts crying out, "you're dead inside of me," pushing away against everything that brings back the memories. But he can't truly let go until the story's beautifully woven finale, Quote
. In the song, Matisyn recalls different instances where he noticed the relationship was destined to fail. As he's moving on to accept the finality of this ordeal, he finally sees everything from a more mature and rational perspective. The song finally ends the story in much the same way that Stop and Say You Love Me
began it, making for effective bookends.
, the Sarah McLachlan cover, changes the song drastically. An interesting effect on the lead guitar provides an atmospheric quality in the verses, while the choruses are fully electric in the same vein as the rest of the album (with nice background vocals by Tara MacLean). It's a nice to touch to the album, although it adds very little and is easily forgettable within the scope of the other songs. The same can be said about the album closer, The Tease
. Matisyn confessed in an interview that the band came together with less than two weeks before the record was due and just put together that song. It's doesn't have the same dark vibe that can be found in the rest of the songs, but that also makes it an effective final song on the album.
As a whole, The Melody...
flows very well, progressing into deeper yet innocent way of examining the modern youthful romantic relationship. At a dark time in someone's life (such as my own when I discovered Evans Blue), the album is eerily relatable in its lyrical content. There aren't any new musical ideas here, and no lyrical ones outside of Quote. But the collection of strong rock ideas mixed with Matisyn's intriguing vocal performance makes for a truly unique emotional experience.
+ Incredibly believable vocal performance
+ Interesting guitar effects and layered vocals
+ Original and well-rounded drum
- Some of the songs come off as generic (Cold and The Tease)
- Kevin Matisyn has a love it or hate it type of voice. Some listeners made find it whiny, while some may find it incredibly passionate. This is just a matter of taste
Recommended songs: A Cross and a Girl Named Blessed, Beg, Dark that Follows, Quote