When Into It. Over It. frontman Evan Weiss holed up in a remote cabin in Vermont to write the outfit’s third studio album, he did so with the intention of isolating himself from 'the schizophrenic distractions of modern technology and media… and background noise’. And yet — considering the lucid, poignant albums to come to fruition from cabin writing retreats (Bon Iver’s ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’, Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska’ etc.) — ‘Standards’ is an album that is almost completely devoid of such clarity and space.
On surface level the LP seems impenetrable, one track’s perpetual clattering of instruments and unbroken stream of tuneless melodies indistinguishable from the last. It’s a shame, considering that what lies beneath the barrage of noise is Weiss’ poetic and candid reflections on life in the 30s. With one-liners like “hungover and divorced, they torch their 20s like it’s kerosene” in acoustic album opener ‘Open Casket’, the frontman reminds us why he still holds the crown for emo’s spokesperson. It is moments like these, where all the clutter is stripped away, that the frontman shines the most lyrically. ‘Your Lasting Image’ is a shimmering, desolate ballad that yearns for memories of a love lost; “I have the faintest recollection of us” eternally echoing. While the forlorn ‘Old Lace and Ivory’ lyrics eschew the complexity Weiss is prone to, instead deploying one powerful metaphor ‘My mind’s an island, dredging deep within the ship’s debris’.
However, these quieter, more exposed moments are few and far between and on a whole, ‘Standards’ comes off as relatively inaccessible. Ironically, it’s background noise that is distracting this album and if Evan Weiss could have just isolated that from the poetry that lies beneath, ‘Standards’ would have been a very different album.
Words: Lisa Henderson
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