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Review:: In Currents | The Early November

This is a monumental day.

The day itself is far from extraordinary, but here’s the thing: I’m listening to a new record from The Early November. It’s not important because I’m listening to it, I’m not conceited like that, but because it’s even here. That alone is incredible.

Here’s the current situation. I’m sitting at my computer, and I haven’t hit play yet. The list of twelve titles sits on the screen beneath this window as I think about the life I’ve had with this band. The first time I heard The Early November was an acoustic version of “Ever So Sweet” in 2004 on the bus on the way to a track meet, and for the next year, I listened religiously, hoping for a chance that they’d play my town. In August of ’06, a few weeks after becoming enthralled by The Mother, the Mechanic, and the Path, they announced tour dates.

September 29th, a headlining show with Valencia and Steel Train at Revolution Hall. Finally. However, the joy wouldn’t last. The show, along with the rest of the tour, ended up being cancelled; not too big of a deal. Six months later, the band announced their hiatus; much bigger of a deal.

Two summers later, Cute Is What We Aim For brought Ace Enders as an opening act for their tour, and booked that same venue. Enders closed with an acoustic version of “Ever So Sweet,” things came sort of full circle, and the venue closed the next year.

Pressing play. Sorry for the wait.

In Currents starts with “A Stain on the Carpet,” a gentle I Can Make a Mess-style swoon laced with strings, piano, and building drums. From the first notes of the album, the band sounds as polished as they’ve ever sounded. “Frayed in Doubt” then immediately lifts the tempo of the record, supported by Enders’ soaring vocals, shouting “we’re all going down the same lonely road.”

The album’s title track is third, beginning with an eerie, echoing guitar loop from Joseph Marro joined by steady, and later, fantastic, drumming from Jeff Kummer before dropping into one of the band’s catchiest choruses in their catalog. “Digital Age” is the album’s shortest track, a quick two-minute mixture of acoustic guitar, soft piano, and hard vocals that feels like a sequel to ‘06’s “Outside.”

“Tell Me Why” ebbs and flows melodically, beautifully, with rising and falling screams from Enders leading the song into a swirl of high and low tempos, contrasting volumes, and lyrics that demand “tell me all you want / keep me holding on / Tell me lies / tell me why / Just like wind, you’re gone / leaving me breathless and alone.” Fading violins bring the track outward, as a great Kummer drum intro and more strings lead us into “Close to You,” an all-around performance that shows what each member can truly do musically, as well as both “Guilt & Swell” and “That’s Not Your Real Name,” another acoustic-backed gem where Enders shines.

The following “Like A Kid” snaps you out of the lullaby-like feel of its predecessor. As a whole, the track is great, but what stands out is Sergio Anello’s matured bassist duties. Beneath Marro’s wailing guitars throughout, Anello has moments where low, sporadic notes poke their heads out.

“Smell of This Place” brings Enders’ knack for love and storytelling into the foreground, much like “1000 Times A Day” had. Plucked guitar strings play beneath repetitions of “The smell of this place without you / the thought of your voice not here / The look in my eyes as I’m telling myself / that it’s all been worth it.” The song is the type that makes me wish that him and I were good friends, so he could sing it at my wedding.

The mostly-instrumental “Wearing the Tie” is another fast TEN song that fans will eat up, sounding like a song they had half a decade to practice. The ending seems to be quick, though it’s nearly three and a half minutes long.

On the first listen, the finale, “Call of the Bells” didn’t quite hit. It’s not that I wasn’t impressed, I just wasn’t aware that the album had ended. I was left listening to a lingering silence, wondering what’s next. That feeling is perfect for what the track delivers; a somber, snapping-fingers and chant accompanied, brooding tale of an anti-storybook ending, leaving us to wonder “what’s next?” Whether the song symbolizes the band’s history, or a failed love, or something else, or, even if it’s complete fiction, it’s heavy. As a whole, it sounds incredible, with each member bringing their A game to the table. The vocals, however, stand out. Enders’ range is as strong as it has ever been, and it shows. In Currents fades away with a mixture of screams and whispers singing “Once upon a time / once upon a time / we were meant to be.”

As the record spins to a close, we know the current status of The Early November, but we’re left with a sense of uneasiness about their future. Do we worry? Do we take this record as their second farewell? Or does the echoing “once upon a time” during the conclusion misdirect us? Regardless, In Currents is the record that we all wanted The Early November to make. It’s one of the stronger records I’ve heard up to this point in 2012, and if the world is ending at the end of the year, at least we got one more album. My final thought is this: we all missed them, and we’re all glad they’re back, for however long that may be.

Rating: 5/5
Total Runtime: 42 minutes
Release Date: July 10th

1. A Stain on the Carpet
2. Frayed in Doubt
3. In Currents
4. Digital Age
5. Tell Me Why
6. Close to You
7. Guilt & Swell
8. That’s Not Your Real Name
9. Like a Kid
10. Smell of This Place
11. Wearing a Tie
12. Call Off the Bells

Written By: Eric Riley