Evangelicals "The Evening Descends" Review

Originally on Sophiezine.com on February 12th, 2007.

Evangelicals’ frontman Josh Jones is not a normal person. His strangeness is apparent from the moment you first see him, talk to him, and especially when you hear his music. If you were to see him on the street, you might assume he is homeless. Bassist Kyle Davis is by no means normal either. His lanky frame and hipster-to-the-extreme fashion sense certainly makes him stand out in a crowd, and he seems to have been put on this earth to do nothing but to be a rock star. But perhaps the strangest part of Evangelicals is drummer Austin Stephen’s apparent normalcy. He just seems like a regular dude and doesn’t really fit in with the band in the slightest, yet at the same time, he fits in perfectly.

The Norman natives released their debut album, So Gone, back in 2006 on Misra Records. But last year, when Misra manager Phil Waldorf was hired by Jagjaguwar to head up their new imprint, Dead Oceans, he brought Evangelicals with him; thus thrusting the band into the indie-rock big leagues.

The Evening Descends, the band’s first release on Dead Oceans, improves upon So Gone in almost every way imaginable. The songwriting is significantly better and more varied; the production is cleaner and crisper; and the overall sound of the band has simply been refined.

The album begins with the schizophrenic title track that jumps from orchestral pop to stripped down pyschedelia to a funky dance number in a scant three minutes. As the album progresses, sounds zoom in and out, up and down, and everywhere in between. At first, everything seems too dense and nonsensical, but with time the melody reveals itself and the album’s catchiness shines through. By the end of the 43 minute run time, it’s difficult not to sing along with Jones’ every word.

Samples are used throughout the record and provide even more depth to an already deep musical landscape. Most of the samples blend in perfectly, but the “splat” sound in “How Do You Sleep” is one of the most unexpected and unexplainable things I’ve ever heard on an album, not that’s it’s necessarily a bad thing.

The band pulls from a wide variety of influences and wears them on its sleeve, yet manages to create a sound uniquely their own. The synthesizers of “Party Crashin” bring to mind 80’s new wave, while “Here in the Deadlights” is reminiscent of post-Waters Pink Floyd. Comparisons to British shoegazing band Slowdive can also easily be made.

On “Bellawood,” Jones repeats the phrase “Strange things keep happening.” If he’s talking about listening to The Evening Descends and the band in general, truer words have never been spoken.