The Ever After aren’t a guitar-centric indie act, but in their new record Take Two, the string play featured in songs like “This River” has a greater weight than any other instrumental component of the music does. There’s a vibrancy and, conversely, a certain amount of somberness conveyed through the guitar parts in this material that defies either passive vocals (“Unity,” “It’s All Right”) or the strangely optimistic groove of the band (“The Doll,” “This River”). As much as I typically hate comparing modern works to those of the past, there’s a very Ween-style experimental feel to Take Two that had me feeling really enamored with its style right off the bat, and I can see where other critics will find its four-song tracklist equally intriguing this summer.
Although the guitar speaks to the audience in a way that the singer never can capture with his voice exclusively, there’s no instrumental focal point to the hook in “It’s All Right” or “The Doll,” both of which rely more on textural and rhythmic contrast than they do fundamental elements in making a big impression on listeners. I get the impression that a lot of this music was born of jam sessions spent with different players of varied backgrounds, mostly because of how versatile the aesthetics are despite having a progressive energy in the tracklist itself. There’s diversity between all of the decadence in this EP, which isn’t something I’ve been able to say about a lot of pop records lately.
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There’s an eccentric yin to every mainstream-friendly yang in “Unity” and “This River,” starting with the production style itself. The Ever After sound polished and almost robotically precise in the other two songs on the EP, but these tracks are authenticated to us via a grungy, unkempt mix that flies the punk flag higher than I thought this act could. There are traces of the DIY ‘80s in this sound that I don’t think I would have noticed without all of the contrast and conceptual juxtaposition in this record, and because of how accessible it is, I believe this project is going to get a lot more love from the critics this season. It’s not surreal, but instead a work of postmodernity I could get used to.
Canada’s underground has been impressing me like no other circuit on the planet this year, and if The Ever After continue to press their sound in the direction of the experimental, they’re going to grow their following both at home and abroad a lot quicker than some of their contemporaries will. There hasn’t been a shortage of excitement in pop since the slight return to normalcy that 2021 has ushered forth, but as hard as the mainstream channels try to compete, efforts like Take Two are just too difficult to keep up with. There are no barriers between narrative and target audience in this set of performances – only the limitations that come with playing music inside of a studio rather than on stage. In short, The Ever After are on their way to the top of their scene, and this record verifies it.
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