The Evens: The Evens
Simultaneously a throwback to early-1990s indie-pop and its grittier, more sophisticated next generation, the Evens’ self-titled debut approaches flawlessness with engaging nonchalance. The husband-and-wife duo of Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye (baritone guitar, vocals) and ex-Warmers goddess Amy Farina (drums, vocals), The Evens is a refreshing twist on pop-punk, combining pop’s hooky accessibility to punk’s political thrust instead of grafting feckless ideas onto guitar-throttle surge.
Its most disarming touch is how seamlessly MacKaye’s and Farina’s separate fingerprints coil into a singular DNA. MacKaye’s unmistakable driving guitar figures and coarse rasp mark the Evens’ propulsive blasts (“All These Governors,” the immediate “Mount Pleasant Isn’t,” and the rousing “You Won’t Feel a Thing,” with a textbook MacKaye line, “They’ll beat you with the truth so you won’t feel the lies”), the mature offspring of Dischord’s original impetus. And when that dissident self-reliance brushes against Farina’s artful, agile timekeeping and warm voice, the pace chills and MacKaye’s meandering guitar sculpts flowers of textured, down-tempo outrage (“Shelter Two,” “Sara Lee,” “Until They’re Clear,” “On the Face of It”).
The lapidary moments arise when Farina unchains her colorful voice and comes center stage to caress casual, figurative lyrics. Her lithe, womanly presence plays off MacKaye’s sinewy vocal huskiness, and the two players shed their résumés’ skins and turn out entirely irresistible songs. These seductive jolts—“Around the Corner,” “If It’s Water,” “Crude Bomb,” and “Minding One’s Business”—are gorgeous moments of emotive force, turning the ordinary and personal into rallying-arms’ calls through songwriting alchemy.