24 Mar Setting New Standards
Now that I have had the proper amount of time to digest Into It. Over It.’s latest full length, Standards, I feel like I can offer a valuable opinion. The hype around the release of this record was so huge that I was chomping at the bit for my first listen. When that day finally arrived, I’ll admit, I had a lot of mixed feelings. I really wanted to love this record, but something was holding me back from joining the flood of accolades. I couldn’t decide if I was still attached to the nostalgia of Evan Weiss’ older material, or if this new iteration just wasn’t for me. So, in an act of frustration, I put the record down for a few days to get a fresh perspective.
I’ve been listening to Evan’s music ever since I saw him open on the Glamour Kills Spring Tour back in 2012 at the TLA in Philadelphia. His unique disposition on music and ability to captivate and engage an entire audience has cemented his place in this scene. Now, four years later, he has been dubbed the champion of the Emo Revival and has an extensive resume of successful albums and side projects as well.
Weiss has become a household name in indie circles, and he has worked hard to achieve and maintain his status musical workhorse. It is for this very reason that I felt so conflicted on my view of this new album. Sure, the whole musical recluse story was interesting, but just that wasn’t enough to get me on board; that is, until I read a recent interview with A.V. Club. In this piece, Evan talks about how these songs were meant evoke a kind of sense of sonic imagery, and that’s when everything came into focus for me.
Last night I went back and revisited Standards with the intent to recreate a portfolio of mental images inspired by each song on the album. Whether right or wrong, I wanted to see if this would give me a stronger emotional connection to the type of music that Weiss was trying to convey… Turns out it did.
I began to really pay attention to certain sounds and effects in each song as they related to the lyrics. I tried to get an overall feeling of the emotions being broadcast, and then use my own life experiences to paint a picture of the overall climate. All of the intricate moving parts of each song began to take form as images in mind, almost like reading a book and trying to visualize the story. One song in particular that I really latched onto was “Old Lace & Ivory”. It’s been one of my standout favorites since my first listen, but I really started to develop a mental landscape as I dove deeper into the music. The quiet, calming nature of the song mixed with the sonic effects of the instruments really gives this feeling of being under water or drowning, and I couldn’t get this image of swimming down to the bottom of a pool where there’s no sound or activity out of my head.
Now, I could be totally wrong about what the real inspiration for that song is meant to be, but I feel like the point of this album (and music in general) is to make listeners have new experiences and interactions through sound. Even after my revelation with this record, there are still some songs that I can’t truly relate to and that’s fine. The beauty of the album experience is that it gives people an opportunity to find music that is immersive. It might not be the whole project, but a few songs is enough to get something truly worthwhile out of an new record.
In an age where being the first to post has taken precedent over developing worthwhile opinions, album reviews are suffering. With Standards, there were already reviews posted the day it was streaming online. Not to say that they weren’t well written or thought-provoking, but I have a feeling they played a large role in why this album initially fell flat for me. All of the hype over the analog recording style and social recluse mythos of the writing process overshadowed any chance of me being able to let the music breath. When I was finally able to bridge the gap between myself and the album, it was like everything clicked in my head. After about two days of listening from a fresh perspective, I have a great deal of respect for the weight of this album and a new standard for digesting music. It has helped me experience music in a way that I was never conscious of before, and that merits all of the accolades; however, I will say that many of them were given prior to really understanding how and why these songs were written, and that is frustrating.
Too many times I’ve seen album review scores retracted because the author jumped the gun on his or her opinion just to get the story out first. It causes a lot of misconstrued thoughts for readers whose own opinions are directly influenced by these articles. I would rather read something weeks later on a record that has been completely digested and processed rather than the rush-job posted to the Internet. Obviously opinions change over time, and that’s a factor that cannot be controlled; but, it is the responsibility of the author to give readers a truthful account of their experiences with the music. Coming from someone who floats between camps, we need these types of pieces so that we can have good conversation about the music in our scene.
Standards was never meant to generate this rant about the way we review music, but it helped shed light on an issue that I had never realized until now. This album is an achievement in the way we process and experience music. It just took me a little longer to figure it all out.
Other helpful tracks: