There’s no denying it: Evan Weiss has kept himself busy over the past few years. As one of alternative music’s most lovable examples of the modern day emo-revival, as well as the DIY style of music promotion, Weiss has found success with a bevy of musical projects since he started to work on his own in 2009. Whether the artist is blasting catchy indie-rock (Stay Ahead of the Weather), showing his chops at math-pop (Their / They’re / There) or providing an angst-fueled edge to emo (Pet Symmetry), his knack for complex melodies and intricate musicianship is always on display. However, when it comes to overall recognition in his genre, Into It. Over It. is what most often comes to mind.
It’s because of this ever-increasing recognition that Weiss was able to take a year-long narrative journey with 52 Weeks, explore the country with Twelve Towns and understand his self-worth with Proper – not to mention put out splits with Koji and Such Gold in the process. However, now that all eyes are fixated on Weiss, where will he go from there? Enter Intersections, the fourth studio album and Triple Crown debut for Into It. Over It. While it’s far from being the musical standout of Weiss’ career so far, its attempt to hold its own amongst the artist’s stronger efforts is certainly admirable, even if it misses the mark on most occasions.
When looking at this record, I had to fully understand what makes his material great, putting together a dense checklist in my head. Songwriting that’s equal parts earnest and honest? Check. An array of musical textures and styles? Check. A commendable revitalization of what makes his genre great? Absolutely. And while this is certainly all found on Intersections in one place or another, the record failed to fascinate me as a collection of music in places that Twelve Towns and Proper excelled at. The main problem I found was the record’s overall lack of memorability. What made me come back to Twelve Towns (my personal favorite offering from Weiss thus far) last summer was its focused, tight-knit narrative. The album flowed neatly from town to town, dissecting the artist’s feelings on each state he passed through. Because of this, the record acted as an intimate brochure, written by an interesting guy whom I connected with.
On Intersections, however, I wasn’t able to absorb that side of Weiss. His thoughts seem to be scattered on this release, never really centering on one subject or another. Though he has a gift for organized wordplay, as well being as a master of the common metaphor, Weiss finds himself rambling on about an array of subjects that often don’t connect with each other. “Favor & Fiction” specifically suffers from this. Though one of the more basic, breezier tracks on Intersections, the lyrics are dizzying, despite being of an aesthetically pleasing nature (“Faced from the glass of the inside looking out / A window’s view from an outside looking down”).
Not all of the material results from this, however. “Spinning Thread”, the record’s first single, is a softly executed bruiser of a song. Weiss’ lyrics coast along, fluidly piecing together thought after thought. “Obsessive Compulsive Distraction” works to a similar effect. While its jazz-fueled hop is a little hard to follow, the vocal arrangement accompanied with the lyrics allows for a fairly pleasant listen.
Another gripe I have with this record is the overall change in musical tone. Whether Weiss’ change in musical heart came from his own doing or he’s found inspiration from other genres, the alteration is easy to notice; every track feels slower, more tended to and as a result, fairly groggy. Though this focused instrumentation works to his advantage on songs like “Upstate Blues” and “Your Antique Organ”, there are places on the album where it’s unwelcome. “A Curse Worth Believing” flat out overstays its welcome with a full minute’s worth of soft distortion, followed by a distracting arrangement of synths and distortion.
It saddens me to say that Intersections is not the giant artistic jump that Weiss was expected to release, especially after putting out one of the best records of 2011. While certainly ambitious and confident in its choices of direction, the product doesn’t stand out on its own merits. Whether it’s through sloppily constructed lyricism, bewildering musical arrangement, or just a lack of direction in general, Intersections’ material is tiring, pedantic and hard to follow. Weiss has already proven himself to be a gifted musician and lyricist. However, after taking a good look at Intersections, I’m starting to believe that the idea of Into It. Over It. is far more appealing than its actual product.
Check Out: “Upstate Blues”, “Obsessive Compulsive Distraction”, “Spinning Thread”
For Those Who Rock:
Cap’n Jazz’s Burritos, Inspiration Point…
The Promise Ring’s Nothing Feels Good
Joie De Vivre’s We’re All Better Than This