The Evens No. 1

24 Apr



The Evens, The Odds, Dischord Records

The Evens, featuring guitarist Ian MacKaye and spouse Amy Farina on drums, know that less is more. As a co-singing duo inhabiting a gender gray zone, they eschew garage rock bombast, facile indie rock pretense, and processed pomp. Instead, as the muted cousin of Fugazi, which MacKaye helped helm for two decades, their appeal is found within reserved tendencies. They replace the emotional cliff-hangers and dissonant dexterity of that band with domicile (un)rock; they even include house lamps on their gig stages. The nasally MacKaye maintains a kitchen sink style, wielding unfussy rhythmic thrusts that dance with Farina’s incessant, propulsive grooves and her stark voice, which echoes a bit of P.J. Harvey. Cadences found in the mesmerizing “King of Kings” unfurl at the speed of Lungfish and reveal wry wordplay and alliteration. Meanwhile, “Wanted Criminals” approximates an avid social critique, decrying an age of hive-mind shadow surveillance, while “Warble Factor – Version” and “Let’s Get Well” mine the existential tension between nature (life and death) and fakery — media concoctions of beauty and finance. Recalling Samuel Becket’s sense of endlessly re-worked language, the band reminds listeners that intelligence is not measured by social media spin and one-hit-wonders but by exploring roads less traveled. — David Ensminger


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