Into It. Over It., Standards
I never thought I’d say it, but I’m at the point in the whole emo-revival thing where it’s the bands who aren’t truly “emo” anymore that are the most interesting to me. I’m talking about the ones who blend together the original emo/post-emo stuff with, hell, I dunno, folk or prog or barroom rock, and make it into something new.
And Standards, the latest album by (mostly) one-man-band Into It. Over It., absolutely fits the bill. Evan Weiss gracefully takes the bones of the emo bands he apparently loved as a kid (and yep, I’m right there with you, man) and fleshes them out with a whole lot of other stuff.
The album caught me off guard right at the start with “Open Casket,” which is delicately folky and definitely not what I was expecting. Sound-wise, it’s warm and comfortable, with close-up acoustic guitars, carefully layered instrumentation, and vocals that occasionally make me think of a more laid-back Chris Carrabba. Put all together, it comes off like Iron and Wine gone The Promise Ring…at least ’til the song ends with a sudden wash of staticky, ear-burning noise.
Things get a little closer to my expectations with “Closing Argument,” a driving, intense chunk of pop-rock with little dueling bits of math-rock and gentle folk, agile, melodic guitar lines, and impassioned, emo-boy vocals. And oh, yeah, it is nice when the guitars really come thundering down; hey, is that a little bit of an American Football resemblance I hear in there, maybe?
“No EQ” barrels along like The Elected at their best, albeit with skittering, full-speed-ahead drums that bring emo icons Braid to mind. Then there’s “Vis Major,” which is roaring, melodic, post-emo rock and awesome for it, reminiscent of Stadium more than anything else and packed full of fiery guitars, Grant Hart-speed drumming, and sweet, sweet vocal harmonies.
Things shift a bit with “Your Lasting Image,” and that’s where Into It. Over It.’s closest influence comes into focus. It’s quiet and slow-moving, and it’s seriously reminiscent of Death Cab For Cutie, complete with delicate, drifting notes echoing off in the ether and Gibbard-esque vocals. “Bible Black” lives in the same neighborhood, with subtle guitars, little electronic touches, and those carefully-spoken lyrics.
Not that Standards heads off to bed after that point, mind you. “Adult Contempt” comes off like Superchunk at their speediest and surliest, only with busier, more frenetic drums, and “Required Reading” is rolling, turbulent indie-rock that segues smoothly from fragile keys and understated vocals to impassioned yelling and blasting guitars.
Now, looking back over those preceding paragraphs, it might read like this album is all a bunch of sound-alikes to a bunch of other bands that already exist; and honest, that’s not what’s happening here. It’s just that Standards pulls from so many different places, places that I happen to like myself, that that’s the best way I can describe Into It. Over It.’s sound.
The reality is that there’s a lot to love about Standards; it’s an absolute blast to listen to, one of the most genuinely enjoyable things I’ve heard in quite a while. As it plays, I find a grin slowly spreading across my face, and then my feet start hammering the floor along with the drums.
Weiss has taken damn near all of the things I love best about ’90s-/early-’00s-era emo and mashed ’em together with folk, math-rock, and the rest, and he’s done it all so seamlessly it just plain feels like this is what it should have sounded like in the first place. And for that, I want to jump for joy and high-five the guy.
(Feature photo by Shervin Lainez.)