Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Review: 'A Great Big Hole EP' by You, Me, and Everyone We Know

The road for You, Me, and Everyone We Know has been, in a word, tumultuous.  Along with critcally acclaimed EPs and a full length came a massive amount of turnover within the band, all of which finally came to a head when most of the band split (into the great The Little Indians and The Return Fight) leaving lead singer Ben Liebsch, ostensibly (or allegedly) the root of many of the issues, to contemplate the future of the band.  He's forged ahead with the band's fourth EP, A Great Big Hole, a record that sounds intensely personal and provides hope that there are still great things in store for the future.

A Great Big Hole is admittedly short, coming in with only three songs, but Liebsch packs a lot into them.  Whether intentionally or not, this EP is a story in three acts: recognizing the hardships of life, accepting these hardships, and moving forward.  One can only imagine it's been heavily influenced by Liebsch's own life.  YMAEWK songs have always been at their best with a type of everyday lyricism: the lyrics are straightforward and lack the flowery language of other bands but at the same time they're clever and descriptive, allowing for an astounding level of empathy from the listener.  For example, the title track's chorus belts out "To get this low/I had to dig a great big hole/Now the only way out/Cost me everything I know."  Very candid, but the sense of urgency and earnestness in both the lyrics and Liebsch's voice helps make every song work.  The second track "I'm Alright" clocks in at around a minute and serves more as an interlude but is vital in connecting the opening and closing tracks, where "Coming Up Short" picks right up.  It's another instance of the great imagery in YMAEWK's lyrics; "But I keep coming up short/Like Napoleon at war" works on so many levels, while "The road ahead brings a worn smile/When I look back on the last mile" ties everything together and sums up the EP, and the band's experience, perfectly.

Musically, it's a miracle anything got pulled off at all consider the exodus of the rest of the band.  Still, it's what you've come to expect from YMAEWK releases.  It's pop rock at its best, with a good mix of tempo and insanely catchy hooks.  It mirrors the lyrics perfectly and makes each song complete.

There may have been some concern about how A Great Big Hole would turn out, or if it would turn up at all.  The good news is that it's an extremely solid record whose only downside is leaving you wanting more.  The better news is that Liebsch seems to have faced his demons and come out the other side stronger and his musical talents haven't been diminished at all.  The future of You, Me, and Everyone We Know might have been in doubt for a bit but if the quality and content of A Great Big Hole is any indication, Liebsch and the band, in any iteration, have a long road ahead.

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