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I'm Glad It's You - Every Sun, Every Moon Music Album Reviews

Following an accident that took the life of their tour videographer, the California emo band finds new meaning in old ideas, while J. Robbins’ production nudges them toward newfound confidence.

Grief casts a shadow over the past. It lends new meaning to old photographs, text messages, and inside jokes, all indelibly colored by loss. On I’m Glad It’s You’s Every Sun, Every Moon, grief leads the Redlands, California band to revisit lyrics and song titles from their 2016 album The Things I Never Say. It was while touring that record, in 2017, that a van accident killed the band’s concert videographer and close friend Chris Avis. I’m Glad It’s You canceled the remainder of their tour; it would be another year before the group performed together in full and began the process of recording a new record. Every Sun, Every Moon is a lustrous document of that healing, casting the aftermath of shared pain in radiant piano and synths.

The first words sung on Every Sun, Every Moon call back to the band’s first full-length: “Another long last look from the back of the ambulance,” frontman Kelley Bader croons on “Big Sound,” echoing a memorable line (“Take a long last look”) from 2016’s “Curbside.” But where once he sounded decidedly resigned, almost sighing, here his delivery is remarkably full-throated, riding brightly over searing guitars and synths. Similarly, “The Things I Never Said” casts a regretful glance back at The Things I Never Say, the title of their debut, the song’s introspection bolstered by piano interludes and surf-pop vocal harmonies. More than just Easter eggs, these references highlight the contrasts between then and now. It’s as if, spurred by the experience of unspeakable tragedy, the only way to return is louder.

The album’s more mature palette was honed with the help of veteran producer J. Robbins. The former Jawbox frontman has spent the past three decades elevating scores of sheepish, shrugging bands to new melodic heights, leaving a legacy of adventurous, potent emo in his wake. The album is full of allusions to his highlights reel: The dense guitars that swirl around “Ordinary Pain” recall the Promise Ring’s classic Nothing Feels Good; the chiming chords on “Lost My Voice” bring to mind his work with Midwestern stalwarts Braid. Robbins’ direction suits the band, who had previously experimented with electronics on a “Redux” version of their 2016 record. Here, drawing on his experience producing similarly ambitious artists, he chooses studio techniques designed to flesh out the record’s narrative. On “The Silver Cord,” ethereal synths complement the song’s vision of a visitation from the afterlife; on “Death Is Close,” a fluttering Mellotron sets an appropriately elegiac tone. In his diverse palette, Robbins reinforces the many moods the band traces throughout the record.

Robbins’ production also serves as a welcome, weighted counterbalance to Bader’s writing, which leans on metaphorical imagery to describe the complex mechanisms of mourning. After that early, ominous reference to an ambulance, the focus turns to the more ambiguous, amorphous project of healing. Often, Bader leans on his Christian upbringing; this comes to a head on “Lazarus,” which pits the Biblical miracle of rebirth against the permanence of death. “The second coming savior running late this time and now I think I see/What Lazarus taught me,” he sings meekly, the ache in his voice burnished by smoldering guitars. As opposed to the tinny, bare-bones production of their prior EPs, the song’s textured facade takes note from British shoegaze, couching dark, nihilistic topics within a thick, protective coating of distortion.

But where a Christian metal band, or emo peers like Reliant K, might find solace in God, Bader eschews facile resolutions. “Myths,” despite its repetitions of “hallelujah,” finds an easy savior not in prayer, but in the glacial passage of time: “Someday soon the day is going to come,” he pleads, his voice picking up as the drums kick in. It’s an ambitious song, not only for its plaintive piano arpeggios and liquid, reverb-heavy guitar, but for the careful, slanted rhythms in its verses: “My flickering flame/Dancing for rain that doesn’t pour.” The rhymes come unexpectedly, a destabilizing effect that forces a close listen and mimics the uncertainty of grief. “It’s a hallelujah/And I’m learning how to sing” might not be the typical shout-along chorus that I’m Glad It’s You expected to write when they first set out on the road three years ago. But through trauma, they’ve landed on the profoundly triumphant note that so many emo bands spend their careers angling to reach.

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