Review by Shannon Shumaker
The Early November can do no wrong. While their new album, Imbue, is definitely a step away from their 2012 release, In Currents, it still has everything that makes The Early November strong.
Kicking off with a strong guitar riff is the first, and one of the most explosive songs on Imbue, “Narrow Mouth.” Within moments, The Early November reminds old listeners just why they fell for them in the first place, and are guaranteed to hook new listeners with this opening track. The band’s use of negative and positive space (if that makes sense) is incredibly strong not only in “Narrow Mouth,” but in the songs that follow, as well. The band doesn’t necessarily rely on big, explosive moments to carry the song, but rather quiet, soft and meaning moments that make the few times that they do explode even more incredible. The second, and arguably one of the strongest songs on the album, “Better This Way,” is a perfect example of the strong contrasts in The Early November’s songwriting. The intro and verses of the song are quiet and nearly haunting, carried by a floating vocal part, and when the huge chorus comes in, the quiet parts make the transition much more remarkable.
As Imbue progresses, it’s apparent that The Early November are trying something new with this album, which feels heavily influenced by the more mellow sides of Brand New. The result is a haunting and extremely relaxing album, but that’s not to say that it’s not interesting by any means. There are strong guitar hooks peppered throughout the album, incredible vocal runs and a great use of ambient noise in nearly every track. And that’s not to say that there aren’t more upbeat songs on the album, such as “Magnolia,” which is one of the catchiest tracks on Imbue and hosts some jaw dropping high vocal runs toward the end of the song.
“Boxing Timelines” is another standout track on Imbue because of its different sound from the rest of the album. The song itself is warm and upbeat and feels like summer, which just proves that Imbue is incredibly versatile. Just when you think you have the album figured out, songs like the emotional, “The Negatives,” or warm “Boxing Timelines” come along and shake things up. Songs like “Circulation” and “Harmony” are also incredibly strong, with soft, sweeping guitar and bass work and some of the more beautiful vocal runs on the record. “Circulation” and “Harmony” are quiet and mellow, making them strong for completely different reasons than songs like “Boxing Timelines” or “Narrow Mouth,” which makes the album well worth listening to all the way through. Imbue doesn’t get boring by any means, thanks to the differing sounds and moods throughout it.
The strongest thing about Imbue is the definitely the The Early November’s use of contrast, both throughout the album in general, and in specific songs themselves. The Early November’s use of ambient noise, coupled with bright, explosive choruses and gorgeous vocal runs is what makes Imbue well worth listening to. You won’t hear the same sound twice on this record.
Listen to "Better This Way" or "Magnolia"