If their first album was already a mix between a west coast and southern feel, Ivan & Alyosha’s newest album, Its All Just Pretend, synthesized those themes in a more expressed, driven and full manner. The album retains the band’s lyrically uplifting nature and musically soothing and flowing nature, but delivers it in perhaps a more expressed, confident, and uplifting manner. Lead singer Tim Wilson’s soulful and yearning voice is harnessed in a clearer, more up front manner, commanding the attention of the listener from the first song of the album. The rest of band plays with increased vigor, even during slower songs such as “Tears in Your Eyes” and “Drifting Away,” delivering a more cohesive and substantive record. The album definitively speaks to the growth that the band has undergone, being I&A’s now second full-length album. While the album does have an air of reminiscing and reflection, it seems to have a positive drive to it, emitting a mature, hopeful sound to it.
The album begins with “Something is Wrong,” a steady tune, that synthesizes Wilson’s sustaining vocals with a driving accompaniment of bass, guitar, and drums. The song then melts quietly and slowly into one of the most driving songs of the album, “Bury Me Deep” delivering pounding drums and bass and concise and catchy vocals. The band then grooves straight into “All This Wandering Around” which retains the energy of “Bury Me Deep” with Wilson belting out vocals throughout the song, in perfect pace with the rest of band. The title track of the album, “It’s All Just Pretend” takes on a more reminiscent, somber tone, with soft guitar and percussion and Wilson’s deliberate and calm vocals in the beginning, intertwined and accented by electric guitar riffs and steady drums. The song speaks of bittersweet reflection and contemplation, ending with the guitar anthem fading away in the background.
Skip ahead a few tracks an “Oh This Love” will have you swaying and dancing its beat, energy, and persistent lyrics, bordering between a sad and happy love song. A few tracks later, “Modern Man” injects high powered energy into the album with distorted guitar, driving drums, and filtered vocals. The song emanates a driven and independent response to some of the slower songs from the album, showcasing yet another feature of Wilson’s singing repertoire. “Let Me Go East” brings the listener back into the world of rock’n’roll, sounding like a 21st century revamping of some of Chuck Berry’s and Jerry Lee Lewis’s tunes from the 50’s, with (some) elements of 90s punk bands like Social Distortion. The song drips with opportunity and youth, speaking to its title to let (whomever) go east. The album closes out with the soft and sweet “Don’t Lose Your Love,” a contemplative, charming, and reflective song that despite its wistful sound, ends the album on a slow, but hopeful note.
Seattle’s Ivan & Alyosha brought out yet another astounding and wonderful full length album that gave the listener plenty to hear and a nice pallet to ponder their own thoughts on. The album can be interpreted many different ways, with its sound driven and full, but many times deliberate and reflective. The album solidifies the band’s west coast/southern fusion in a delightfully complex and robust manner. This album is perfect for any summer day, providing something not only to move one’s body to, but one’s mind as well.
The band is on its summer tour for this album right now, and will be making a stop in DC this Friday, May 29th to perform at U Street Music Hall. Don’t miss it! If you’re interested, you can buy tickets here.