Review Summary: Rustie finally makes the album his fanbase wants - but do we really know what we want? Because I don't.
There's something weird that happens with music listening I've been thinking about a lot lately. I find that it's extremely difficult to quantitatively evaluate it with an objectively subjective perspective - that is, attempting to completely base your rating on your opinions is almost impossible. EVENIFUDONTBELIEVE has been one of the hardest albums for me to do this for. It's ranged from a seven to a ten for me, depending on the day and what I feel like. As far as I can tell, this is because it's so emotionally linear, and as such is easily listened to too much. I've had completely life-affirming experiences listening to "Death Bliss," (particularly 1:08 - one of the best moments in music of the year). However, I've had times I've tried to duplicate this feeling of overwhelming beauty and frisson with little success. I guess part of this is just that these moments hit so many endorphins that I naturally try to rerun the euphoria that they bring too many times over again. Unfortunately, pleasure is very different from joy. While joy is long-lasting or at least memorable, pleasure lasts for the moment and quickly loses steam. That's the main problem with EVENIFUDONTBELIEVE - it's sort of a false positive. You can see this short-run perspective in Rustie's recent obsession with intense positivity. "Imagine how the world would change if news told inspiring stories instead of trawling us thru the gutter of humanity" he recently tweeted. And yeah, when I'm in a good mood, I completely agree. But it's nearly impossible to listen to anything like this when I'm feeling down at all, because, just like his tweets, it doesn't really accept reality, instead choosing to focus entirely on the positive. That's why it's so difficult for me to rate this - I'm rarely this positive, so my opinion on the album changes extremely frequently.
While I'm indecisive on the overall quality of the album, I can still describe how it sounds. It steals the propulsive beats, sheer variety, and of course semi-random sound effects (listen closely to the album version of "Big Catzz"'s drop and you'll probably notice something a little different from the single) of Glass Swords, but thankfully mixes it in with some of the best, most heart-stoppingly gorgeous ambient sections of Green Language. Basically, it sounds like what you might imagine an album's worth of Triadzz/Slasherr sounding like, if a bit rougher around the edges. The younger Zedd/Madeon/Discovery-era Daft Punk/Skrillex fan in me would probably have considered it one of the best albums ever made. Current me is a little less enthused, but still pretty positive. Features include: gorgeous high-pitch vocal cuts, a sugary aesthetic, a drop/build-up based structure that allows for easy appeal and nothing really "sad"- sounding. You can hear various influences. Examples include PC Music (if I could pick one non-album song to summarize the entire release, it'd be Rustie's edit of A.G. Cook's "Beautiful" - formulaic but, for lack of a better word, beautiful), happy hardcore (Jess Harvel said in his 2011 review of Glass Swords that "you might mistake Rustie for a happy hardcore artist" and now it's finally come to pass with "First Mythz") and recent Hudson Mohawke ("Scud Books" could probably find a way to fit in here somehow). Songs are pretty, extremely sweet, fun and even sometimes inspirational, but unfortunately sometimes a bit repetitive, and generally poorly mastered.
Thankfully the album flows extremely well, almost cinematically. He's clearly learned from his last two albums - interludes actually have a point this time around and he's learned where to put them. Songs like "Emerald Tabletz" and "Peace Upzzz" are obviously placed where they are to help provide a breather from the other tracks, which is an enormous benefit for music with a largely homogeneous vibe of inspired euphoria - something that would be impossible to sustain this long normally. And while it does better than a lot of other albums I've heard, it still isn't quite possible to keep it going forever. The beauty of the hopeful sound Rustie really tries to hold on to is that it happens despite the sadness. That's why he can't.
Besides this, the mastering issues, and the occasional stale feelings, it's a nice album, with some very enjoyable tracks, an underutilized aesthetic, powerful moments, an inspiring message, and, for the first time in Rustie's career, excellent structure. I'm listening to it now for the first time in a while, and I was surprised with how much I enjoyed it. This happens to me every time I listen - I'm still not sure what the right rating for something like this is. But I guess that makes sense - happiness isn't quite as objective, quantifiable or concrete as we'd like to think.