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Into It. Over It. - Standards (Album Review)

Wednesday, 04 May 2016 Written by Jonathan Rimmer

In recent years, dozens of critics have attempted to tackle the emo revival and its causes, with the genre having been reclaimed from the melodramatic poster boys of the 2000s in favour of a more low-key aesthetic.

For all the angst and amateurish singing, the ‘90s Midwest scene was never overbearing. Evan Weiss, founder and leading member of Into It. Over It., knows that better than most, having immersed himself in the genre since his youth.

Like the best emo of yesteryear – bands like Mineral and American Football, who’ve recently embarked on reunion tours – his music is nostalgic, passionate and frequently sentimental, but never whiny. On ‘Standards’ he throws a new card on the table: maturity.

Now 30, Weiss’s songwriting attentions have naturally shifted towards looking back at what he’s learned. Open Casket opens the album and finds him returning to his hometown only to become frustrated with old friends. But his refrain, ‘They torch their 20s like it’s kerosene,’ is affectionate rather than condescending as he croons over fingerpicked guitar.

Weiss has often dealt with themes of innocence and nostalgia, but his tone is warmer and his vocals more settled this time around. As the drums and keys chime in on Closing Argument, he announces: “For the first time in a long time I haven’t had to search for the words.” Even on the reverb-laden Your Lasting Image, the saddest and most intimate track on the record, he shows a willingness to learn from his regrets rather than wallow in them.

‘Standards’ is just as musically assured as it is thematically. The song structures are trim and more sharply focused on certain ideas and phrases. That doesn’t mean the record feels threadbare, though. Weiss and his drummer Josh Sparks wrote the album in a remote Vermont log cabin, yet it’s still full of energy and bright spots.

Sparks particularly announces himself on this record, providing the most technical elements of tracks like No EQ and Adult Contempt. By dynamically leading the charge, he allows Weiss’s emotive vocals and minimalist guitar melodies feel that much more powerful.

The downside to this, of course, is that the onus is on Weiss to write hooks that grab you. On the first half of the record, he passes the test with flying colours, but what the second half lacks in accessibility it makes up for in its arrangements.

Required Reading opens on a piano loop but evolves into the most playful track on the record, tipping a hat to math rock with its disjointed rhythms. Meanwhile, the use of strings on Anesthetic is gorgeously subtle, complementing a melody that tugs at the heartstrings.

It’s unsurprising that Into It. Over It. appeal to so many people. There’s a clarity and vulnerability to Weiss’s songwriting that never slips into full-blown melancholy. Maybe it’s impossible for Weiss to still authentically write songs about unrequited love and remembering his teenage feelings, but based on the quality of ‘Standards’, it’s probably better that way.

Into It Over It Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat May 07 2016 - SOUTHAMPTON Joiners
Sun May 08 2016 - BRISTOL Thekla
Mon May 09 2016 - LONDON Scala
Tue May 10 2016 - MANCHESTER Sound Control
Thu May 12 2016 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Fri May 13 2016 - NOTTINGHAM Bodega Social Club

Click here to compare & buy Into It Over It Tickets at Stereoboard.com.



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