Into It. Over It. (IIOI) was started by Evan Weiss in 2007 and has seen a revolving-door membership aside from its main man. IIOI gained prominence when they released the compilation, 52 Weeks, a collection of songs written over the course of the year (one song written each week). Since then, they have released three full-lengths, Standards being the third.
Evan would be the first to dissuade someone from describing his music as “emo,” but the influence that various bands from Jade Tree and Polyvinyl Records, especially Owen, has had on his music is undeniable.
While IIOI’s first full length, Proper, could be considered more of a rock album and the second full-length, Intersections, could be considered more of an acoustic album, Standards represents a balance between the two with about half the songs being acoustic and the other being more rock.
IIOI’s acoustic material can draw pretty obvious comparisons to that of Owen or Death Cab for Cutie, but his rock material is more difficult to draw comparisons to, and it’s in his rock songs where a dynamic sense of songwriting and originality has really shined in the past. More specifically, Weiss’ rock songwriting has often been compositionally and structurally complex without sacrificing fluidity. However, on Standards, his rock songs seem to be a bit looser in the sense that they are less reliant on complex dynamics. This makes the rock songs on Standards seem like they have even more of a natural flow than they did on previous albums. This is apparent on songs like “Vis Major.”
Many of the acoustic tracks seem more bare, especially compared to those on Intersections. Songs like “Black Bible” and “The Circle of the Same Ideas” really show the stripped back approach Weiss took to his acoustic songs on Standards as compared to many of the songs on Intersections. The guitar in “Black Bible” and “The Circle of the Same Ideas” bares some resemblance to the straightforward staccato eighth note playing in Elliott Smith’s work; “Needle in the Hay” being a prime example.
A possible reason for the looser feel of the rock songs and more bare, intimate feel of his acoustic songs is the fact that the songwriting took place in the classic, now cliche, Bon-Iver-cabin-in-the-woods sort of scenario. Evan Weiss and drummer Josh Sparks isolated themselves in a cabin over the winter and worked on music a reported 13 hours a day. Additionally, the recording process was done with analog equipment rather than digital. Weiss has talked at great detail in interviews regarding the recording process with John Vanderslice. Under Vanderslice’s direction, the band was encouraged not to “micromanage” the recording process or sweat the details. Vanderslice also helped the band explore different sound textures, which is a rather new element to IIOI’s musical arsenal. For example, the song “Your Lasting Image” features ambient background noise that was supposed to mimic the sounds of a satellite in space.
As always, Weiss’ lyrics are incredibly insightful, but this time they are lot more poignant. Among other topics, Weiss addresses the fact that he is 31 and not getting any younger and the fact that many of his friends in his hometown have recently fell on hard times. In a recent show in Lawrence, Weiss told the audience, “There is a big difference between 31 and 29…when you’re 29, there is still hope.” Being 31 myself, I can definitely relate. Overall, an incredibly solid release from IIOI.
Recommended If You Like: Owen, Death Cab for Cutie, Sunny Day Real Estate, You Blew It!, Stay Ahead of the Weather, Their/They’re/There, The Progress, Pet Symmetry, A Great Big Pile of Leaves
Recommended Tracks: 3 (No EQ), 4 (Vis Major), 7 (Adult Contempt), 8 (Required Reading), 9 (Bible Black), 12 (The Circle of the Same Ideas)