Slumberland Records has a history of having some pretty fantastic bands release albums with them. As a result, it’s been this reviewer’s MO to expect some good things out of Slumberland. Evans The Death, a British Indie Pop band is releasing their latest album, Expect Delays under Slumberland (in the US) and Fortuna Pop! (in the UK). As a result, the expectations are high –and sure enough, the band delivers.
Expect Delays, is plain and simple, a really fantastic example of a great indie pop album. This becomes apparent pretty quickly for many reasons. Throughout the album, Evans The Death slings a series of catchy melodies to allure you, paired with some really powerful and heartfelt singing from Katherine Whitaker. The combination is beautiful.
Evans The Death demonstrates their magic well in the fifth track, “Bad Year.” The main melody is a bit jaunty. The guitars are cheerful and the bass seems to ring out with a smile. On the other hand, when Whitaker sings out a simple line in the chorus, “I’ve had a bad year,” it all really hits home. You almost want to look to the band and say, “Yeah, I bet you did.” Expect Delays comes with all the raw emotion you’d expect from indie pop, packaged in the same friendly melodies.
Evans The Death does a fantastic job pretending the year is somewhere around 1995; and that’s both really good and really shocking. If it weren’t for bands like Evans The Death, indie pop would disappear from existence pretty quickly. Indie pop has aged a bit and it isn’t often the fans get some massive hit of an album. It’s not like the majority of songs scream out, “Oh my god it is so 2015,” but when you hear the word ‘e-cigarette’ worked in, it stands out –and then it settles in. Indie pop really is on life support. Evans The Death is bringing it back. The band somehow manages to do everything right, without seeming like a gimmick. The execution is perfect. Expect Delays is a perfect throwback to the 90’s twee world. It has all the right emotional expression and jangly melodies.
Without getting too ahead of ourselves, let’s admit the fault too. Expect Delays has a serious habit of sounding bipolar. The album really feels a bit inconsistent and even messy at times. For instance, the second track, “Terrified,” is hefty, almost spacey. The bass line comes off strong, the guitar comes off like a wild jam at times. Truthfully this isn’t a high point of the album, the song feels just plain noisy, but it’s still acceptable. Then, suddenly, the third track changes things up completely. “Sledgehammer,” is much more digestible. The melodies are cheerful, there isn’t a million layers of texture but rather a well composed mix. The song actually does a great job standing out as one of the more fun tunes. Observe the difference –the transition between these tracks is probably the most extreme, but this is common place across Expect Delays. Not knowing what’s to come next, and having your otherwise swooning emotions being placed on this bumpy rollercoaster is a rough ride for certain.
Unfortunately, Expect Delays suffers the common syndrome of just plain lacking anything extremely memorable –a single song to stick with you, a ‘blockbuster’. This isn’t to say the album as a whole isn’t memorable or the songs aren’t great, things could just be more outstanding.
On the flip side, of the thirteen tracks, a few songs did stand out. The mostly acoustic tune, “Shanty comes to mind. With a nice neutral pace, the song works through a simple series of chords, mixed with supporting instrumental lines. The bass acts like a solid anchor and after you add the vocals? –the song just becomes really nice. The closing track, “Don’t Beat Yourself Up,” also comes to mind. The electric guitar lays the groundwork while the vocals sell it all. The entire thing is like a defeated pep talk. You can tell the musicians behind Evans The Death had to deal with some hell to make a song like this; yet to hear the words, “Give yourself a chance,” being sung is just a pleasant way to end things.
Twee, indie pop, a bunch of cute kids playing cute songs –no matter what you want to call it, seems like the genre was dead. Evans The Death proves with their new album, Expect Delays, that indie is far from dead. Solid execution, genuine feeling, and some of the smoothest melodies make Expect Delays too good. We started out by saying anything that passes through Slumberland deserves a warm welcome. After Expect Delays, it’s probably safe to say that anything Evans The Death produces also deserves that very warm welcome.