Review Summary: and sometimes i still do wonder who decides the speed our lives rotate
With winter dampening my spirits and the never-ending flow of snow becoming a never-ending flow of depression, it’s good to have a near-masterpiece like the 90 Day Men’s To Everybody
around. A harrowingly emotional album, but one that is more hopeful and positive than melancholy, To Everybody
is a warm, progressive record that works as the most perfect and handy furnace that I’ve ever bought. It’s an album that you can cuddle up with, emotional but not to the point of self-indulgent; math-y and progressive but not to the point of being imposing. It’s like that difficult girlfriend you can’t get enough of.
, in essence, is the perfect progression from the 90 Day Men’s straight-forward math-rock sound into a more post-rock-influenced territory. There are moments of striking emotional tautness that isn’t unlike what you would find on a Gregor Samsa or a Mogwai album, and there are even some psychedelic elements to make things even more interesting. It’s an album that is so varied that’s its nigh impossible to describe all that creates To Everybody
’s sound, but it’s because of this that To Everbody
is so fresh and interesting. To Everybody
is mostly-piano driven, although that shouldn’t take away any credit to guitarist (and vocalist) Brian Case, whose loose, tapping guitar-playing is almost as spectacular as his low, heavily emotional vocals. His personal highlight is on the near-droning “Saint Teresa in Ecstasy”, where his finger-picking creates a warm blanket of what almost could be called ambience, constructing a beautiful effect that’s an obvious highlight of the album.
But it’s Andy Lansangan’s keyboard playing that, by itself, sets To Everybody
apart from other math-rockers. “I’ve Got Designs On You”, for instance, would be rather straight-forward Chicagoan math-rock if it weren’t for Lansangan’s piano lines, which are heavily melodic and drive the song along throughout its quick-moving seven minutes. Every chord he plays seems to just vibrate with emotion, whether he’s providing an interesting background, noodling experimentally on the trippiest song of the bunch, called “We Blame Chicago”, or playing melodically.
“We Blame Chicago” could as well be the motto of this album. To Everybody
seems to reject or even rebel against their Chicagoan counterparts, taking more inspiration from Louisville bands such as Slint and June of 44. However, To Everybody
is still a new, forged sound. “Alligator”, which is so melodic and easily pleasing that it nearly falls into piano-rock territory, is so calm and loose that you’d never find anything like it on an album from a band like the Shipping News or the like. The 90 Day Men’s sound could loosely be considered math rock, but I’ve never heard any math rock this un-structured.
“A Natural Car Crash” ends the album in a psychedelic mash of quiet guitar feedback, a fluttering piano line, and the most straight-forward drumming found on the album, courtesy of Cayce Key, who provides the mathiest aspects of the album. The song stops and stutters throughout its eight-minute runtime, only to wash over itself in a wave of calming effects. It’s the most obvious departure from anything the 90 Day Men have done before, and it’s a perfect teaser to the direction the band would take with its music, which would delve into a sadly average psychedelic territory in Panda Park
, which was released in 2004. It’s a shame that the 90 Day Men have hidden away after that misstep, with absolutely no word on whether or not the band is ever going to record new music (the band’s website has unnervingly been taken down though). And while fans wonder whether or not this band has broken up or is just perfecting a work to redeem themselves with, we’ll at least always have this masterwork to warm us during these cold winter nights.