ON AN ON’s debut album Give In is 45 minutes full of catchy, polished pop melodies and melancholy anthems. Give In describes exactly what this indie-pop trio refuses to do. After three of the six members had left indie-rock group Scattered Trees, the remaining three regrouped and reinvented themselves along with a new and unique sound as ON AN ON. As debut albums go, Give In is a strong effort and it hints at what the band could become with some honing.
With their song “Ghosts,” ON AN ON establishes a strong emotional atmosphere for the rest of the album. Layering the raspy sounds of percussion and a buzzy guitar over the main pop melody, they create a strong feeling of longing. The full percussion creates a subtly strong beat behind the song that enhances the melody’s buildup. “Every Song in the World” captures the desire to escape, as the lyrics comment on how every song is reminiscent of someone who was part of the songwriter’s painful memories. Although the lyrics are simple and repeat for the most part, they create a hint of insistence and urgency behind the emotion. With “American Dream,” the band takes a more mellow approach by creating a lullaby, as Eisland reassuringly croons “you’re gonna be a star.” “Cops” bluntly questions authority and the sense of security authority gives us—a controversial topic expressed in the most haunting song of the album. “I Wanted to Say More” is a beautiful, hazy piece to end the album that draws out its melody until the last possible second, creating a sweet tension before its final resolution.
“The Hunter” starts off seeming like it wouldn’t have a place in the album and, sonically, it doesn’t quite fit. Far more electronic than the other songs (woah there, insanely auto-tuned backup vocals), it provides a harder pop contrast. Sandwiched between “American Dream” and “All the Horses,” the two most mellow songs in the album, this high-energy synth-infused song seems out of place. “Bad Mythology” also has a much harsher sound that the other songs in the album. The continuously repeating buzzing sound became irritating very quickly—the decision to use that sound instead of just the strong bass note was perplexing.
For only having had three weeks to create not only an album, but also form a completely new band, ON AN ON did an admirable job with Give In. Although some songs have some refining to go through, as a whole, the album provides a refreshingly open perspective on loss and a no-holds-barred look at what we take for granted. Most artists have simply forgotten how to make albums. In a music world obsessed with hit singles, Give In presents itself as an (almost) complete and cohesive statement that, sure, has songs that would be pretty great as singles, but when listened to as an album, creates a frank emotional landscape.
Album Highlights: Ghosts, Every Song in the World, Cops
ON AN ON will be performing at the Rock and Roll Hotel with Savoir Adore Thursday, April 4th—be sure to buy tickets to the event!