Evan Weiss, with his solo project, Into It. Over It., has built a worthy successor atop the graves of Sunny Day Real Estate and American Football. Rather than reinvent the genre, Weiss has evolved it without shirking its perennial melodrama.
Weiss is on an upwards trajectory. Into It. Over It. is a cornerstone of fourth-wave emo revival and best known for the surgically-mastered album Intersection (2013). His new album Standards sets an even higher bar. The album was recorded in an isolated cabin in Vermont under four feet of snow without internet or telephone service. His frequently relied on digital editing tools were replaced with a purely analog approach. Weiss, a perfectionist, loosened his control. And it sounds great.
The album opens with the bluntly depressing track “Open Casket.” The lyrics don’t hide meaning; they throw it in your face. Friends “hungover and divorced” that “torch their twenties like it’s kerosene” [sic] create ghouls that continue to haunt the album throughout. Emo lyrical tropes are abundant on every song, but clarity is not a mainstay. In fact, the record becomes incredibly cryptic. By the third song “No EQ”, the listener is mostly left with abstract scenes, likely about lovers, possibly about friends, definitely dosed with self-loathing. The puzzled depictions add a welcome adaptability of the themes to the listener’s life.
One technically pleasing element of Standards is its willingness to soak each song in decisively gentle instrumentation. The whole album relies on soft piano lines. “Anesthetic” relies on xylophone and warped electric guitar coaxed by a three-note bass progression. Drums are totally absent on the folksy acoustic “Open Casket” and “The Circle Of The Same Ideas” which serve as a gentle open and close respectively to a tumultuous interior sound. Of course, the rest of the album is far from tame. The pacing shifts throughout; clicky drums drive head-shaking jams like “Required Reading,” then thrash you about on punkier riffs like “Vis Major.” “Adult Contempt” has punchy percussion that rattles at break neck speed, nearly melting into one continuing thump. The wildly varied energy adds a splash of excitement as you attempt to anticipate the sound’s next direction.
Standards (2016) is a concrete contribution to the aging halls of emo. If you thought emo referred to scene kids and My Chemical Romance, give this album a listen. If you thought emo’s glory days sat squarely in the 90’s, give this album a listen. And if you love this album (you will), catch Into It. Over It. at the Social Hall on March 31st.
Article by Nathan Black