Review Summary: Much more varied than their debut, this album comes off as a harder, much more matured yet still unpolished attempt by Evans Blue to cement their name as legitimate rockers.
By now, you've at least heard their single, Cold (But I'm Still Here)
off of their debut album at one time or another. The song showed promise for this Canadian four-piece band; but the album turned out to be a huge disappointment, as it was rather boring, overly long, and not varied. The songs all sounded the same, with the same techniques and song structures. This was a shame to me, as the lead singer Kevin Matisyn had such a unique voice, and the lead guitarist Vlad Tanaskovic had a unique twinge and sound to his guitar work which made this album a legitimate band with plenty of potential. After a multitude of singles like Over
(which were horrible), the album died off and was suddenly lost in translation.
Then Evans Blue announced their sophomore album, The Pursuit Begins When This Portrayal of Life Ends
, and their small fan base began quietly hyping the album; but the album was under hyped, and not many people outside of their fan base actually knew
they had a sophomore album in the works. Where their debut album was about as fun and varied as watching glue dry, this album actually surprised me; especially with their single, The Pursuit
. The guitar riffs were much heavier, much noisier, and the song had some atmospheric charm courtesy of the rhythm guitarist Parker Lauzon. The single is catchy, but not mindless repetition like Cold (But I'm Still Here)
Fast-forward to today, when I picked this album up at the store. The album kicks into gear, and its almost hard to believe how much Evans Blue had matured in a year. Kevin Matisyn has suddenly found a voice to scream with, the guitarists have put their own twist on the Breaking Benjamin-esque guitar riffs, and the album featured much more of the rhythm guitarist's atmospheric squiggles. The album jump-starts with In a Red Dress and Alone
which kicks off with some rhythm guitar loops mixed with some quick, short guitar riffs that explodes into the chorus which sounds like someone sent a nuclear bomb at a Guitar Center. The chorus is heavily guitar layered and creates a 'fuzz' background behind Peter Matisyn's matured and much improved vocals. But what came as a huge surprise to me was how hard this song was and the screaming in the bridge. The band is no longer a pure, bland alt-rocker with no identity, they have established themselves as alt-rock's hardest rocker with one song.
But much to my dismay, you find out pretty quickly that the opening track is as loud and edgy as the album gets. The album is hard rock; easily, but its much more radio-friendly than the opening track, which was a big let down for me. The only thing is, the songs aren't like the boring, oddly-set up other singles Beg
, the songs are structured a bit more. The choruses and verses are easy to tell apart, and they are much more traditional than most of the songs in their debut album. Shine Your Cadillac
isn't as loud, hard, or as edgy as the opener; but its still an average song. The song opens up with another heavy-metal influenced guitar riff which picks up into the verses, and then into the chorus which is as catchy as ever, but gets repetitive rather quickly. The atmospheric charm of the opener is suspect, and there's no screaming here. It sounds as if its a leftover to their debut album at best.
For the next few songs, the album seems to lose its steam and fire; Q (The Best One of Our Lives)
sounds about as light and poppy as the album gets. The song sounds a lot like Beg
off of the first album with much better vocals. The song still has a more profound song structure but there's not much else. Same with the next song, Kiss the Flag
; which ends up sounding a bit edgier than Q (The Best One of Our Lives)
and a lot more atmospheric on account of the rhythm guitarist Peter Lauzon's bigger part. The song ends up becoming a boring extension to Q (The Best One of Our Lives)
Its probably not best to fall asleep on account of the last two songs, as My Damsel: A Confession to an Adversary
will wake you up in a jiffy with its catchy and atmospheric introduction guitar riff and Peter Matisyn's short-lived scream. The song slows back down in the verses and picks back up into a pre-chorus and the chorus. This song is catchy and the rhythm changes in this song are done perfectly. But what really shocks me is the rhythm guitarist Peter Lauzon in this song. He's present for basically the whole song, going in the background with a catchy, simple, yet fast guitar riff. The guitar riff sets a nice backdrop and tone to the song, which manages to make the song this album's best song.
Just like the last album, there's always a slower intermission towards the middle that ends with a cover of a song. The 'intermission' starts off with Pin-Up
which is the album's slowest song hands down; but is still an amazing song. The song picks up slow with a mellow guitar riff and then picks up into a slower chorus where it feels as if Peter Matisyn is bearing his heart. The backdrop the guitars create is as atmospheric and perfect for the song as any band could create which manages to wrap the song up with a bow and send it off into a cover of Tori Amos' Caught a Light Sneeze
. The cover is nothing like the original, though. The song starts off with a crazy guitar riff before it flows into a slower verse and into a strange pre-chorus where Matisyn sings in a whispering, barking voice a lot like Maynard James Keenan from Tool. The song then goes into a short-lived chorus before flowing back into the chorus. But what truly manages to sparkle in this song is Matisyn's vocals. They bark, snarl, and whisper while still flowing together all perfectly. The lead singer has a voice that is truly unique and has plenty of 'disguises'.
starts off after the cover with some echoing sounds before Matisyn's vocals come in, at soothing decibels, and also layered. The song changes rhythms quickly. as the loud chorus that forms a 'fuzzy' backdrop a lot like the album's first song. The guitar riff is heavily atmospheric and mood-setting before it drops back into a slower verse yet again. The song isn't very catchy, but the song is very good, and another one of this album's best. The album flows right into a guitar-driven metal-influenced anthem, Dear Lucid, Our Time is Right Now
filled with heavy guitar riffs and catchy choruses before it breaks down into a nice intermission where the guitars set a nice tone; almost acoustic as Peter Matisyn's vocals are layered before it breaks into the chorus.
What Evans Blue's first album lacked was an epic. A long, spiraling epic was missing from their debut, and Evans Blue didn't leave it out. Painted
is a collage of all their sounds mixed into one. Starting off like a typical, catchy radio-friendly song, it breaks down before going into a crazy guitar solo and then into a frantic ending led by the guitars and Matisyn wailing and barking like Maynard James Keenan before it all ends and goes into the single, The Pursuit
. The song is excellent but isn't the album's best by far; as the opening guitar riff maybe loud and a lot harder than anything on the first album, but the verses are much more atmospheric then any of the band's former singles and the chorus is so much catchier and feels so more 'epic' than any of their former singles.
The lyrics are a lot more of the same in this album; the same poetic, often love ballad-oriented lyrics that were littered about their debut. This is where Evans Blue fails, as often the lyrics come across as cheesy and cliche due to how predictable they actually are. But that's not the biggest problem to draw away from the album; it still doesn't feel polished. The album drags at a few points, the songs sound a lot alike for the most part, and sometimes the same guitar riffs get rehashed with a few changes. This album still features plenty of good listens, and ends up coming off as a early release from a potentially very talented band.