Quite how Evan Weiss does it is anyone’s guess. The Into It. Over It. mastermind seems tireless in his pursuit of getting his name immortalised in the dictionary as the definition for prolific. Since the inception of his mostly-solo project, a venture that emerged in 2009 with the year-long song-a-week project ‘52 Weeks’, Weiss has been at the forefront of the emo scene. ‘Standards’ marks the third proper full length as Into It. Over It. and adds to two compilation projects, countless EPs plus considerable output in his other active bands, Pet Symmetry and Their/They’re/There. Couple that extensive recorded output with tour upon tour and you have a contender for the hardest working musician of his generation. He’s surely due a burnt out, dud of an album by now?
Thankfully, Mr Weiss isn’t one to rest on his laurels, he saw the potential roadblock before the crash even occurred. In order to avoid becoming stale he did what many a seasoned songwriter has done before; disappear to the middle of nowhere and find inspiration in near-solitude. Along with drummer Joshua Sparks, Weiss spent the early 2015 in a snow-surrounded cabin in Vermont where, away from the hyper-distracting modern world, the pair would conceive Into It. Over It’s most focussed and diverse album so far.
‘Standards’ begins in a style typical of Into It. Over It. on ‘Open Casket’ as Weiss, over a gently picked guitar, reflects on apparent resentment from his so-called-friends back home; “My friends from where I’m from, they want my neck hangin’ high upon a noose, hangin’ heavy from the guillotine. The wake would go unattended, no respects but I’d feel better as a corpse than a boring, barely living thing”. They don’t sound like great chums, Evan.
After starting in a similar fashion to 2013’s ‘Intersections’, ‘Standards’ really finds its feet with lead single, ‘No EQ’. Heavily utilising one of the album’s driving forces in Sparks’ accomplished drum work, the song could be described as Death Cab for Cutie with a rocket up their collective backside. ‘Vis Major’ follows, another faster number that issues a brief reminder of how Weiss has refined his style since his debut, ‘Proper’.
No more so is that statement true than on the sombre duo of ‘Your Lasting Image’ and ‘Old Lace & Ivory’, two songs that provide a beautiful, reflective centrepiece for ‘Standards’. You’ll read elsewhere that ‘Your Lasting Image’ is akin to the aforementioned Death Cab for Cutie’s ‘Transatlanticism’; there’s a reason for that, it shares the same spine-chilling sentiment and is equally effective.
Once we’re out of the mid-album reflection, Sparks’ immense drumming brings us back in on the blistering ‘Adult Contempt’ and highlights another strength ‘Standards’ has over its predecessors; it is expertly sequenced, ebbing and flowing in all the right places whilst showcasing Weiss’ versatility as a songwriter. ‘Required Reading’ follows suit and keeps the tempo up with nimble, palm-muted verses before bursting into a brash, half-time chorus.
If you were still unconvinced of the influence of Weiss and Sparks’ cabin retreat then ‘Anesthetic’, the album’s penultimate track, will put that firmly to bed. A soft, hushed and brush stroked effort, it evokes thoughts of fellow cabin-dweller, Justin Vernon aka Bon Iver, with its delicate beauty. Weiss recently described ‘Anesthetic’ as “the most proud of anything I have ever made” in an interview with Billboard. He needn’t restrict that thought to one single track, ‘Standards’ is greater than the sum of its parts and deserves all of Weiss’ pride. The burnt out, dud of an album has some serious time to bide yet.
‘Standards’ is out now in digital format and is released physically on the 29th of April via Triple Crown Records.