The Early November

Imbue

Written by: LF on 29/10/2015 22:16:55

I've been trying for a long time to find something worthwhile to say about the newest album from New Jersey indie/emo band The Early November. As the follow-up to 2012's pretty great album "In Currents", the release of "Imbue" piqued my interest from the start but as it turns out, I've had a hard time connecting with it. Despite its many catchy hooks, it's like it simply repels attention or deeper investment and there are several reasons for this.

Many of the songs on the album have big, swooping melodies supported by a very 'thick' instrumental side that blankets the listener in a layered atmosphere through which it becomes hard to get a real foothold in the songs to explore them from. Many of the songs are only made to sound even more spacious through a kind of reverb effect on the vocals. This is especially prominent on the two very first songs, "Narrow Mouth" and not least "Better This Way", that are supposed to lead us into the album or at least give us a relatable place to start from. This huge, glossy sound is in its nature not very intimate or personal and by letting it dominate their otherwise emotional music, a certain distance is established from the beginning between the listener and the band. This being said, "Narrow Mouth" redeems itself partially with a well-executed change about halfway through that really supports vocalist Ace Enders' intense vocals as he bursts into repeated yells of "How do you hold onto it?"

Granted, Enders' vocals also have an urgent and direct quality to them that is able to cut through from time to time, at first most notable in the quieter verses of "The Negatives" that have a definitive Dashboard Confessional vibe. At least for a little while this song changes up the high-energy setting that the album otherwise seems to run in as well as turning to a darker, heavier mood towards the end that stands out from the all-enveloping blanket of airy, sing-alongable sound. "Circulation" is another song that has also succeeded in winning me over with the discovery of its nicely detailed guitars underneath the otherwise very simple "Ooh uh oh oh ooooh" chorus. This song is one of the few on the album that finds a nice balance between intense, loud choruses and more calmly inviting verses.

While I can see many of these songs as good energy-bombs for bigger live shows, I can't say "Imbue" works as an especially memorable or personally engaging listen for longer than part of a song here and there. This is quite annoying, not least considering the amount of catchy hooks here that should provide the songs with more staying power. The result is that the album comes off as oddly anonymous despite Enders' recognizable singing and despite the attempts the songs make at seemingly hammering themselves into the listener's brain with sheer intensity and force of will.

Download: Narrow Mouth, The Negatives, Circulation
For The Fans Of: The Starting Line, The Dangerous Summer, Dashboard Confessional, Saves The Day, Taking Back Sunday
Listen: facebook.com/earlynovember

Release date 12.05.2015
Rise Records

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