Music Reviews

Into It. Over It Figure

(Triple Crown Records...) Rating - 6/10

On Into It. Over It.’s last album, Standards, Evan Thomas Weiss made his “I’m thirty and afraid” album. It’s a topic that can be overboiled and underwritten (looking at you, The Menzingers), but Weiss took a possibly menial subject and gave it a real sense of stakes and excitement. It didn’t hurt that the songs rocked: even though opener Open Casket gave signs of it being recorded in a cabin, cuts like Closing Argument and Vis Major were as life-affirming and exhilarating as Weiss’ 2011 and 2013 albums. With the release of his latest, Figure, it appears the boring parts of middle-aged emo have caught up with him. This is an album filled with Into It. Over It. trademarks: conversational lyrical sentiments, the occasional math-rock guitar part, and anchoring drums. But even with Weiss’ sturdy, commonly excellent songwriting, it just never clicks.

The predominant issue here is its production. Songs fade into slushy, atmospheric electric guitars. Great choruses fall away to limp, midtempo grooves with forgettable acoustic guitars and touches of electric piano. On the other hand, Weiss’ lyrics are expectedly beautiful. The slow build of A Left Turn at Best Intentions’ instrumentation is unremarkable, but elliptical details about a month getting worse and worse are incredibly resonant. There’s an appealing quality to this prose, as it’s both cryptic and universal. Lines like “I’ve been trying and I think that’s the most I can do” are very relatable, but offhand phrases about looming cowboy killers and Armitage Avenue make these songs feel lived-in. Despite the great poetry, half of the songs here (Dressing Down // Addressing You and Hollow Halos are the biggest villains) lack a sonic personality.

Thankfully, there are moments of brilliance in Figure. The album’s two singles, We Prefer Indoors and Living Up to Let You Down, immediately join Into It. Over It.’s best material. The former, with its acrobatic guitar rhythms and adept drumming, feels like a song ready for the energy of a live setting. It’s a perfect pairing of melancholic lyrics about a breakup (“A beginner’s guide to annoyance” is one of the album’s sharpest lines) and an anthemic hook. By the time you get to the start-stop ending, it feels cathartic. Living Up to Let You Down has a vague (Death Cab for Cutie's 2008 album) Narrow Stairs energy, with the gloomy sentiment of “We sing along but the feeling’s gone” applied to a relationship over a warm melody. As the song advances, it turns downright depressing. Weiss lists off possibilities for the future before landing on the worst one: his current partner will move a block away and they’ll move on with their lives. Moments like Living Up to Let You Down are unforgettable; it’s just a disappointment the rest of the album isn’t even close.