“Did you ever think to give me truth someday?
Even just to say you found a better way?”
I’m kind of a sucker for post-rock, experimental, and really anything without a vocalist. I’m not saying vocals aren’t great, but there are times when I just want to go deep into the music and let the nonverbal message shine through, unfiltered and unhindered by language.
Which, really, is just a pretentious way of saying: Sometimes I like to listen to instrumental music. And generally, when I get into that mood, vocals feel like an interruption.
Strange, then, that a record by a guy primarily known for being Yellowcard’s vocalist, William Ryan Key, should open with a five-and-a-half minute instrumental track. Stranger still that, after putting me into that great instrumental mood, the vocals kicking in on track 2 were not at all unwelcome.
Everything Except Desire is a weird animal. It’s experimental, but not so out there that the songs are distracting or hard to listen to. It’s slower in pace, but not so slow that even the longer five- and six- minute tracks feel labored or insurmountable. Everything still moves at a nice pace; the songs feel poppy and punchy without falling into pop-music clichés or experimental self-importance. One thing it’s definitely not is ‘Yellowcard: Take Two.’
The first track, “The Swim Back”, is a well-composed, synthy, moody instrumental that put me in mind of some of Andrew Black’s fantastic solo work. It’s a perfect song to get yourself centered, to prep your mind into an artistic, deep-listen mode… Which makes it a perfect choice to lead off the album.
The third and middle track, “Brighton” wanders back and forth between several different styles, with synthwavy synths and solid rock drumming stitched together by dreamy, ethereal vocals. Smashing together such disparate elements can feel chaotic but it’s handled well here, coming across as intentional and harmonious. It’s the longest track on the album, but it really moves and doesn’t feel long at all.
In fact, if there is a complaint I can level at Everything Except Desire, it’s the length. Sure, it’s an EP but I really wanted a full record’s worth of this material. Even though the tracks are different styles to each other, the whole thing is arranged really well, starting with modern, dreamy electronic music and ending with solid classical piano. If we could just get a few more songs for that middle part, I’d be a happy camper.
Oh, who am I kidding. I’m perfectly happy with this release the way it is. Instead of complaining about the length, I’ll just listen to it again.
Stream it, Buy it, Skip it?: Buy it, for sure. If you’re a fan of artists taking a big swing and connecting, or a fan of anything slightly experimental yet poppy and listenable, this one’s for you.