Evan Thomas Weiss ends a four year hiatus...

After taking a four-year enforced hiatus, Into It. Over It. - the project of multi-instrumentalist and producer, Evan Thomas Weiss - is back with his new album, 'Figure'. The Chicago native’s fourth LP under the Into It. Over It. moniker, released via Big Scary Monsters, feels like the arrival of the atmospheric but anthemic alternative rock he has been cultivating for some years now.

Elements of his unashamedly tender approach were already on show in his second album, Intersections, way back in 2013, but never before has there been such an assured marriage of his witty lyricisms, soaring choruses and inventive production touches. Album opener, ‘They Built Our Bench Again in Palmer Square’, is a fitting introduction to the path the album Weiss has taken, misty drawn out guitar lines weave in and out of focus against a drum beat that borders on lofi. It’s in the lyrics, however, that Weiss really sets the tone, laying bare his journey from 2016 to 2020.

“This is the evening where our ending starts, this is the evening where I break your heart,” he croons, as he begins to detail the tragic course his life took between 2016 and 2017 which saw long time collaborator, Josh Sparks, depart the project. As such, Weiss was left to return to his cold midwestern home alone to reconcile a broken relationship, no job, no health insurance and thousands of dollars of accumulated tour debt.

“It was like somebody had taken a pair of scissors and just popped the balloon,” he admits. “In 20 days, my entire life had switched from full-time touring musician with a partner, to single with a nine-to-five job and this overwhelming feeling of every mistake I had made over the last five years.”

Stuck in such a hole, Weiss was in need of a way out and music provided that path. Departing from his usual solitary process, he instead turned to a creative community who helped him break out of his reclusive process. Significant help came from drummer and audio engineer, Adam Beck, with whom he wrote 30 songs over 2 years.

“I owe that dude my life,” says Weiss. “He came in and saved me when I was in a really dark time. He continues, “being a solo musician, you take control and you refuse to let it go, because it’s ​your​ thing.” Letting go and trying something new was exactly what Weiss needed and the light of positivity shines throughout the album.

The elegant touches of ‘Perfect Penmanship’ make it certifiably uplifting despite the somewhat self-flagellating lyrics; while the Noughties alt throwback of second single, ‘We Prefer Indoors’, marries Weiss’s musical roots with the direction his life has taken. “I’m not the same as the boy you brought round before, I don’t deserve that resentment,” he cries, recognising the change that he has undergone in recent years.

These wholesome overtones all come to a head in the final two songs. 'A Lyric in My Head I Haven’t Thought Of Yet' and 'A Light In The Trees' are at one and the same time intimate and anthemic, reconciling the difficulties of past failures with hope of present realities. “So here we are, there’s no cause for alarm, watching you on replay on a decade's worth of dates,” Weiss sings on the former, as if finally finding peace with the route he has been forced to take, before unleashing the ultimate catharsis of the song’s chorus.

Ultimately, there is a lot to both love and respect in 'Figure'. There is no handbook to overcoming such turmoil that details an assured route back to normality, but often the best way forward is to step outside of your comfort zone first. By breaking out of his solitary musical process and reaching out for the support of his wider creative community, Weiss has done just that, creating an album that is both original and the inevitable culmination of everything that has come before. With the additions of neat production touches and elegantly self-aware lyricisms to complement Weiss’s already powerful atmospheric sound, there is a definitive feeling of hope that runs through the core of this album.

8/10

Words: Ben Miles

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