Last week, The Early November released their fourth full-length studio album Imbue on Rise Records. While many of the 2005-era emo bands have broken up or fallen off the face of the earth, The Early November have managed to stay relevant. Perhaps it’s because they took a four-year hiatus between their second and third albums, when most of their contemporaries were putting out dire last ditch efforts to cash in on a dying scene or maybe it’s just a testament to The Early November’s ability to change with the times. Either way, it has been three years since their comeback album, In Currents, which was widely well received. Interestingly, what ultimately became Imbue was originally intended to be an EP due for fall 2013 release.
The album opens up with ‘Narrow Mouth,’ which was released ahead of the album, back in March. The most striking aspect of the opening track is frontman Ace Ender’s voice, which sounds more powerful and less manicured than on previous releases. Next up is the energetic track ‘Better That Way,’ which the band released a music video for featuring footage from their first time playing the song live. The album’s energy dips a bit on the middle tracks, but picks back on ‘Boxing Timelines,’ which has a catchy chorus that will be fun to sing along to live. One of the absolute standout tracks of the album is ‘Cyanide,’ which features bluesy guitars and muted vocals. At the end, the song really builds up. The energy of the album steps back up on the penultimate track, ‘Nothing Lasts Forever,’ which showcases Enders’ vocal prowess. The album also featured a bonus track, ‘The Digital Age,’ which is slow and emotional, especially given the vigor of the preceding track. Keeping it as a bonus track was an interesting choice, because if listened to as the last track, it completely changes the ending tone of the album.
Imbue might not have the immediate dynamism of the band’s early releases like The Mother, The Mechanic, and the Path, but it is still a solid effort. On the other hand, Imbue is certainly less identifiably ‘emo,’ compared to their earlier work, which might allow a whole new audience to engage with their music.
The Early November are currently touring around America with Lydia and Restorations.