It’s been a long time since we last saw The Early November release an album. Their three-disk effort ‘The Mother, The Mechanic, And The Path’, released in 2006, saw them at the height of their popularity in a healthy emo scene. Have things changed? Does ‘In Currents’ maintain the magic of their earlier releases? Is this a successful comeback from the New Jersey foursome?
Well, first thing’s first: fans of TEN will not be disappointed. It may have been six years since we last heard Arthur Ender‘s versatile and heartfelt voice, but the power of his lyrics and his melodies have not been diminished. The interesting electronic mixes of new tracks like ‘Close To You’ and opener ‘A Stain On The Carpet’ provide a breath of fresh air amongst the fraught emo anthems. It’s clear that the band have both evolved their sound and nurtured their roots too, to produce an album that is highly enjoyable to listen to.
TEN know how to craft a downplayed, acoustic-guitar driven ballad or two, but it’s when they really let their imaginations (and their distortion) loose that the best results are achieved. ‘Frayed In Doubt’ is probably the best track on the album. After the atmospheric opener, the staccato guitars really cut to the chase, with Ender reaching for some powerful notes in the chorus. The craftsmanship of tracks like ‘Tell Me Why’ and ‘Guilt And Swell’ show a playfulness, but also a maturity that shows that this band were still improving despite such a lengthy hiatus.
Then there are the quieter, more reserved songs. ‘That’s Not Your Real Name’ recalls some of TEN‘s best work, while being reminiscent of classic Jimmy Eat World. It’s mainstream, heart-wrenching stuff that’s as sugary sweet as it is bitterly emotional. It’s a good mix. Then there’s closer ‘Call Off The Bells’, which lilts with a gently tumbling guitar riff that’s captivating all by itself. Add to that the beautiful duet that highlights the fractured relationship of the lyric subject matter and a swelling crescendo, and you have a highly effective closer to ‘In Currents’.
Emo’s best days may be behind it, but the scene is still strong with bands like this carrying that bitter-sweet spirit. Far from resting on their laurels during their break, the band have written some of their best songs ever that any fan of the genre will be able to see the value in. Certainly there are highlights and moments that shine a little brighter than others, but as a coherent, feeling body of work, TEN‘s latest album is very impressive.
Written by Grant Bailey