(e)vening EP

Written by: PP on 05/01/2011 20:45:47

And so one of the most ambitious undertakings in indie rock finally draws to close as Mae has released their final EP, "(e)vening", on tour during November. For those not in the know, in early 2009 this band set out to record a career-defining three-part EP saga representing the three stages of the day, morning, afternoon, and evening through audiovisual means. The full experience of which could only be experienced within one of their hundreds of shows that occurred throughout this project. The idea was to take each stage and represent it in terms of audio, and then donate all the profits made from records sold almost exclusively on tour (but later made available digitally and on record) to charity. The first one in series, "(m)orning" EP, was a masterpiece, a one-of-a-kind recording that should be owned by anyone into either indie, alternative or softer music in general. In comparison, "(a)fternoon" felt a little less awe-inspiring, but there's no denying over the powerful melodies lurking within those songs, too. The third one, "(e)vening", is a different story, and by far the most disappointing of the three.

But first, lets start with the positives. "Bloom" is a quintessential Mae song that should appeal to anyone who liked the band on their older albums It plays heavily on a quiet/loud dynamic, with soft voices and guitars, which crescendo slowly towards higher levels, although the entire song is dreamy and floaty in nature. What follows might be the best song Mae has written since the "The House That Fire Built"-"The Fisherman Song" pairing from "(m)orning", "I Just Needed You To Know". It's similarly powerful, starting out with an intriguing guitar melody and beautiful vocals by Dave Elkins leading the way to a monumental explosion of indescribable beauty created through such simple means. A highly tuned guitar, a soft keyboard, and a brilliant chorus melody ensure this song will be (and has been) on repeat for a long time from now. Really, "(e)vening" is worth purchasing just for this song alone.

But then the slippery slope to mediocrity begins. "My Favorite Dream" sounds like an acoustic Coldplay song, though the chorus is fine here as well. It's still a pretty good song nonetheless when thought about in the context, because when I think of an evening in the same context as the morning and afternoon in the Mae universe, which have sounded like the band have been recording in real nature, it brings the idea of a quiet campfire acoustic guitar session, when everyone's just about ready to get tucked into their sleeping bags after a long day's worth of exploring the beauties of mother nature.

What follows next, however, I simply don't understand. A three-part classical piano concert that features no other instruments or singing. If I played piano, I could probably appreciate some of the details and beauty in which the song is played, but in reality, it sounds and feels no different from watching some talented kid play piano at your school's closing ceremony. Pretty cool, but you don't need to hear it more than once, really, before it starts to get boring. Mae's strengths have always been in the 'heavy' indie rock where electric guitars blaze on a soft soundscape while Elkins delivers some of his unmatched vocal work in the genre. Moreover, what exactly does classical piano have to do with evening?

And that really hits the bullseye about why "(e)vening" feels so disappointing. Whereas both "(m)orning" and "(a)fternoon" portrayed their respective stages of the day even better than Thrice did with elements in the "The Alchemy Index" series, I'm having trouble connecting these songs to portraying an actual evening. They should've been darker somehow, or at least have created a feeling of dusk, or bedtime, or anything like that. The pianos nor the ultra-soft "Sleep Well" just don't do it for me. That said, it's still a Mae record, so it's not terrible. Just not a match to the other two pieces in this puzzle.

Download: I Just Needed You To Know
For the fans of: Copeland, Sherwood, Relient K
Listen: Myspace

Release date 30.11.2010
Cell Records

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