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The Evens | review | alternative | Lollipop
by Tim Den
A few things not to do when listening to The Evens:
1) Expect Fugazi.
2) Expect The Warmers.
3) Expect them to sound like "I'm So Tired" from Instrument Soundtrack.
4) Expect them to sound how you think a band featuring Ian MacKaye and Amy Farina should.
Rather, embrace the fact that a band featuring MacKaye and Farina will be good because they're the kind of people (as their former bands have proven) who will win you over by not giving you the expected. Embrace the fact that two such creative forces will find ways to sound like themselves without repeating their past. The Evens are just The Evens: A new project by two of indie rock's brightest, channeling all of what they've learned into a new band. That just happens to rule.
Sure, you could say The Evens are mellower than projects either member has created previously. But what you should be saying is how blown away you are by the minute dynamics in the band's every detail. Narrowing the creative process, musical interaction, and instrumental execution down to just two people, The Evens have effectively gotten rid of the convolutedness that many multi-membered bands trip over on their way to good songwriting. MacKaye and Farina very obviously are connected mentally and spiritually throughout the record. Give the air-tight songs credit, but really applaud the pair's almost-telepathic teamwork. Every miniscule shade in Farina's drumming (snare, hi hat, bass drum, you name it) is answered by MacKaye's rich chords (themselves leagues deep with harmonies and the man's fondness for quirky 7ths), making even the spaces between their call-and-response/ebb-and-flow an aural ballet (check out "Around the Corner"). Melodically, the two sing the likes of opener "Shelter Two" as if they're playing hot potato with the vocal lines: Quick exchanges of main hook and accompanying harmony while adopting different octaves depending on the vocalist (lower register for MacKaye, higher for Farina). And it feels natural.
This full-length displays two people's total control over their artistic vision, technical capabilities, and understanding of composition. The fact that the songs are also memorable and immediate attests even more to The Evens' success. Forget trying to nail down a genre or finding a connection to the old: Here, NOW, is great NEW music made by amazing talents that everyone should love.