Review Summary: There are millions of words
that all sound like other words
I could've sworn I heard
Everyone grows up when they get older. Nearly everyone at least. Growing up for Kevin Devine, later to be known as a folk singer-songwriter who focuses on political, introperspective lyrics, meant to find his contemporary style of music. But before, he played in Miracle of '86, named after the 'miracle' Mets baseball team, as people that are interested in baseball might recognize. Founded in 1998 by Devine (vocals, guitar), Mike Robertson (guitar), and Mike Skinner (drums), the first release was a song on "The Emo Diaries II", followed by a self-titled album in 2000, then followed by the album that is subject of this review.
The bands musicial style varies between their records, as later released "Kevin Kolankowski" comprehends mainly acoustic songs, whereas this album is more like a classic blend indie/alternative rock and "emo". Musically the majority of the songs on there are uptempo and deliver a youthful spirit, which is supported by the two guitars that give a mostly bright, though not twinkly atmosphere to them and the drums, which fit in smooth and give the right edges, when needed to. The title track "Every Famous Last Word" or "Knife" feature this sparkling, playful sound to the maximum. What carries the tracks for, let's say 75%, are Kevin Devine's vocals. Equipped with a bright, unique voice, he finds a balanced mix of rawness and motivation on the upper side and relaxing, soothing expression on the songs that are slower paced, like "Your Quicksilver Moment" or "I Think You Meant To Say No".
So what is there to like about this album, and what is there to dislike? Coming from someone that does not enjoy Kevin Devine's later solo work equal as much, this album has something that gives it a certain replay value. And that is not the poetical lyrics, complex song structures or very-hard-to-play guitar riffs. It's even to be seen as a relaxing listen when it's hectic at it's own best. The, among "music experts", unpopular catchiness is there by any means you could want from a indie/alternative record, while it's songs are different and do not tend to all sound the same. On the other hand, what is a minus, is the lyrics. Strong in "Every Famous Last Words", it's nothing much special elsewhere. Plus the guitars are good, but not spectacularly unique. And the last song "Sleep All Damn Day" is pretty boring. It's by far not a perfect album by a (then) young band, as it could have included some more ideas. But as the band disbanded in 2005, anyway, after the release of their last album "Kevin Kolankowski" and Devine felt like he needed to make music a little different from the one "miracle of '86" has delivered, we probably won't find out, either. So pick this up for a easy, fun listening in between your usual hard material, if you like. Without personal bonuses (or minus-points), it's a solid 4.
Every Famous Last Words,
Dance! Dance, Revolution!,
Keep On Charging The Enemy
Not Recommended Track:
Sleep All Damn Day