For their new full-length album, Make Do and Mend strayed away a bit from the post-hardcore feel of their 2010 debut, End Measured Mile, adding a bit of a relaxed, melody-reliant alternative rock to the mix. Judging by the results, this couldn’t have been a better decision, as Everything You Ever Loved is easily one of the strongest albums of the year.
At times, its songs sound like what can best be described as a blend of an eclectic array of acts, including Jimmy Eat World, the Foo Fighters, Brand New, and the band’s own brand of post-hardcore, which does shine through on a few tracks.
Opener “Blur” sets the mood, with singer/guitarist James Carroll alternating between throaty shouting and cleaner vocals effectively. “What if everything that you ever loved more than anything/was killing you this slow?” he asks, the song’s rhythm driving the point home.
“Disassemble” is led by a swirling guitar riff and a steady drum rhythm, and coupled with tambourines and Carroll’s voice, it’s one of the catchier songs on the record.
Lyrically, Everything You Ever Loved is a cut above – on “St. Anne” (a song that channels the earnestness of Third Eye Blind, from its emotive guitar lead to Carroll’s delivery) he repeats the phrase “We’re all livin’ just to find our latest loss/So cut your anchor loose and swim your way across”, while a string section gives it an added sense of melancholy.
Make Do and Mend’s post-hardcore background has given them the ability to create a starkly original brand of alternative rock, part of the reason this album is so affecting. “Stay in the Sun”, another highlight led by sparkly guitar chords and a pop-punk progression, combines both styles perfectly, giving the refrain of “You can click your heels until you wear holes in the floor/and realize that no place feels like home anymore” even more resonance.
Other songs, like “Royal”, call to mind bands like Balance & Composure (with its downbeat tempo & chords), while the one-two punch of “Drown In It” (strings and a slow burn that picks up momentum as it builds to its explosive final minute) and “Lucky” (the best example of the band’s new approach) combine to form the album’s peak.
“Hide Away”, “Storrow” and “Desert Lily” close out the record, with the final two in particular showcasing the band’s uncanny ability to turn the energy up and down, respectively. “Desert Lily” is one of those songs that you’ll remember for years in the future, Carroll’s first-person narrative marrying with cascading guitar chords exceedingly well.
If you haven’t yet spent time with a Make Do and Mend album, give this one a shot. It’s a stunning piece of artistry, carried out by a band that re-vamped its sound with wonderful results. Take Everything You Ever Loved with you on a late-night drive around your neighborhood to bring its music to life, letting its swirling melodies, grit and emotional power take control.
It’s that good.
ALBUM RATING: 5 Stars (out of five)