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9 out of 10
I feel very ambivalent about Into It. Over It.'s album 52 Weeks. Let's start with the bad. It's a reviewer's nightmare, 52 songs! Christ, that's a lot to review, and even more to have to type out in the track-listing section. Inevitably there are some weaker tracks, but then I have never written 52 songs in my life so I can forgive him this. So with that out of the way here's the good:
What a fantastic idea. For those who don't know, Evan Weiss, who is Into It. Over It., (formerly of Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start and currently of Damiera) was experiencing a touch of writer's block so to knock himself out of it, he aimed to write a song a week for a whole calendar year. I mean, that is just a great idea, and kudos for having the commitment and sheer talent to go through with it the whole way.
So the review, well it's hard to really do it. With 52 songs to go through it pretty much plays like a compilation. Weiss experiments with various styles throughout his year-long project. There's acoustic confessionals, effects-laden indie songs, full-band full on rock songs and almost everything in between. The second song, The Outcome Of All Our Lives could have come straight off any UUDDLRLRBAStart album with its quirky guitar line and softly spoken lyrical work. This review would be as long as War and Peace if I went out picking all the influences on every song so I'm not going to. Just know that the majority of the album is just Weiss and his acoustic guitar, which is really to be expected considering the self-imposed time constraints he was working in.
However, there is some frustration that is occurs while listening to this album. With a week's time frame to write, record and produce a song I get the feeling that some of the songs could have done with a bit more work. A prime example of this is Heartificial, a thumping rock song with some of the best lyrical work on the album, that finished after a mere 1:06. It's not the first or last time that you feel the song finishes before it was truly finished. I don't want it to seem like I am horrifically missing the point of this whole project, but part of me wishes that Weiss had gone back after the year and taken 15 or so of the songs and re-worked them and released them that way.
But that is just me quibbling. Evan Weiss is clearly an incredibly talented song writer, in these 52 songs there are some flashes of genius, he is adept at working within multiple genres and his lyrical work is superb. Anyone who has read my reviews before knows that I pick up on lyrics a lot, but Weiss is one of the best lyricists I have come across for a long time. At times evoking memories of Northstar-era Nick Torres and Death Cab's Ben Gibbard.
I feel that this review has been somewhat lacking and I apologise for that but really if you like any of the bands Weiss has been involved with, Death Cab For Cutie, singer-songwriters or Rival Schools you will find something you like in the 52 songs. It is also worth buying for the beautiful art-work and to hear the progression that Weiss makes as he grows as a songwriter throughout the year. Not that the songs get better as the tracks progress but there is a noticeable increase in confidence the further Weiss gets through his project.
52 Weeks has not been an easy CD to review, but it's an easy CD to listen to. You put it on and listen to it and you could be listening to a compilation CD, held constant by Weiss' strong lyrics and highly-suited voice. I advise anyone to get this; this is value for money for some of the best songs you will hear this year.
I am not writing out 52 song titles, sorry.