The Evens -The Odds
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Record Label: Dischord
The Evens will only ever be introduced to new fans one way, but that’s really because there is only one way - as the legendary Ian MacKaye’s post-Fugazi work. Paired with his wife Amy Farina, who, though having less name recognition, is quite accomplished herself, the two are The Evens.
Though formed well over a decade ago, last year’s The Odds was the duo’s first full-length in years - though a preference for punny album titles survived that break. That time was spent pursuing other hobbies - chess, maybe, or possibly raising that child they had.
Return they did, though, and they did it in fairly rust-free fashion. Just as the new Paint It Black EP is for (paraphrasing here) “parents who are still punk,” The Evens are storied middle aged rockers who’ve seen a few things, sonny, and steadfastly refuse to let the fire die. Sure MacKaye sits in a folding chair when he plays now, but that doesn’t mean kids won’t still jump out of their socks when he yells at them to get off their iPhones.
Yes, he still gets feisty, even if he spends more time sitting and singing than standing and shouting. The balance of his rasp and Farina’s hearty cry makes for a rousing dynamic, and those involved here know their way around a few guitar licks and punk rock rager. The fervency and tenacity of the music here shouldn’t be undersold. There’s plenty to rail against still, such as the authoritarian five-o of “Wanted Criminals” and the heedless staff and patrons of subverted diner fare “Competing With the Till.”
These recording echo with a vast amount of space, the sound of an almost empty room, which allows each part to really go big and fill that emptiness. What the two say hits listeners right in the face and it really feels important, and not because listeners are being told it is. Voices boom out over a loudly thrumming bass, riveting and clear; when a brow-furrowing, concentrated guitar sits in the driver’s seat, it owns the road. The Odds has very out-of-the-way production that emphasizes the elements already occupying center stage.
The songwriting here is the work of longtime professionals, as is everything here. The songs are lean and strong, lacking frills, completely focused. Most tracks are somewhere between ominous and harrowing and completely thrilling; the wordless “Wonder Why” is one of the most compelling offerings six songs in with sharply structured guitar paths and guitar fills. Sometimes there’s some fun - “This Other Thing” is fairly light and boppy - but much of this is all gristle and hard edges.
The Evens are a band that seems a bit removed from the conversation, due to the history and comfort level here. Their albums seem simply exist for self-satisfaction and fan enjoyment, not for accolades. They simply are - important for some, uninteresting to others. There’s something wonderfully comforting about that. The Evens are sharp professionals at work - some notice should be taken.