by: Jordan Muse
Ah, the Avett Brothers, such a great band. What beautiful (predominantly) acoustic, banjo-laden music they craft, or used to. With their latest release, I and Love and You, they shed most of the banjo and any other folk instruments and adopt a more usual rock set up. They get poppy. Guess what though, it’s not bad, not by any means. It could very well be one of their best albums, but obviously that’s just personal opinion. All their albums provided quite a noticeable change in sound, but just because they made more changes this time around (maybe too many for some) it certainly doesn’t make it bad. Lyrics are strong and emotional just like always, only with a more radio-friendly vibe for a majority of the album.
The album’s title track and opener is a heartfelt ballad, and while it may linger for a little too long, it packs quite the punch. “January Wedding” is a bit more in tune with their roots, re-plucking that banjo to aid with the lovely proposal the song details. “Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise” evokes Emotionalism, and for most I shouldn’t need to say much more. One stipulation though: it sounds like they threw it through a Hollywood orchestra. “And it Spread” is certainly a poppy number, but it still retains the usual emotional intensity, with a great breakdown about halfway through. “The Perfect Space” is a piano-driven piece about loneliness, with swirling strings. It’s quite beautiful. “Ten Thousand Words” is on the folk side, enough said. “Kick Drum Heart” is way poppy, incredibly upbeat, with minimal lyrics. It’s definitely a hit-or-miss track. “Laundry Room” is almost too slow, but obviously its still an emotional song.
“I’ll With Want” is haunting, the instrumentation, vocal delivery, lyrics, all piled up to make one intriguing song. “Tin Man” has an upbeat feel, but deep down it’s a terribly depressing song, yet wonderful. “Slight Figure of Speech” was issued on 7” vinyl, and there’s a reason: it’s happy, catchy, but not lyrically or musically lacking. “It Goes On and On” does not do what the title suggests, it’s just a good old fashioned love song. Finally, “Incomplete and Insecure” speaks on a pretty sad-willed character, with the perfect instrumental backing, definitely a rocking stand-out track. It’s catchy too.
Overall the album is phenomenal, despite the notion of them abandoning their roots. They sound great, especially playing these songs live. It would blow your mind. A few listens are recommended, for the die-hard and casual listeners, and after that it ought to be greatly appreciated. 9 out of 10
Download: “Kick Drum Heart,” “Slight Figure of Speech,” “January Wedding.”