Avett Brother's I And Love And You Review

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6 Mar 2010, 17:25



I and Love and You (2009)
The Avett Brothers
Rating 4/5

I eagerly anticipated this album. Two summers before it came out, I discovered The Avett Brothers via a friend who I worked with. In my town there was a cult following of the group. Everyone was excited Rick Rubin started to work with The Avett Bros, giving them main street viability. This raised another question about whether or not was going to affect their music. The Avett Brothers’ style was not tailored for mainstream success. Everyone knew this step was going to change their music, but we wondered how much it would change and if this new version would be as good.
The reviews by my friends have been greatly mixed. Some of my friends think it is their best album to date, while others think it is their worst and wish they return to their hardcore folk roots. I am on the side of those who liked the album, but this belief is with a small caveat. I think a consensus view among the spectrum is that The Avett Brothers are great lyricists and they are at the top of their game with this album. When it comes to the instrumentals, I feel they did a great job but they have done better on previous albums (like Emotionalism and Four Thieves Gone).
I feel the title track (“I And Love And You”) is a great metaphor for where the band is. The song starts by saying: “Load the car and write the note/ Grab your bag and grab your coat/ Tell the ones who need to know/ We are headed North./ One foot in and one foot out/ But it don’t pay to live like that/ So I cut the ties and I jumped the tracks/ For never to return.” In interpret “North” to be a metaphor for their careers. They are no longer releasing albums independently. They are onto the next phase of their journey. Now that they are on a major label, they are no longer able to work the same way as they did before. I also thought it introduced a great theme for the album: the power of love. In this song, the character is coming to a realization when lost amidst change. What the character realizes is love can get you through the toughest of times. Another track that demonstrates this is “Head Full Of Doubt/Road Full Of Promise.” This song shows the need of something to have conviction about. This need for a passion could be filled by love.
While this is a different style of music than previous Avett, you can see that they have not lost their past. “The Perfect Square” shows the duality of their styles, with both deep/melodic/slow and lighter/upbeat/fast tempo songs. Tracks like “Kick Drum Heart” & “Tin Man” highlight their traditional instrumentation with use of a variety of instruments. While they do not have their great partying song on this album, “Slight Figure Of Speech” shows their ability to combine clever lyrics with a rapid flow.
Stephen Deusner’s review for Pitchfork of this album highlights its importance for their career. He writes: “I And Love And You is a crucial album for the band. One of the biggest grassroots success stories of the decade, they spent years self-releasing albums and self-promoting shows to gradually growing audiences, eventually signing to North Carolina indie label Ramseur before moving up to Sony/BMG/Columbia Records. For their major-label debut, the trio .. worked with Rick Rubin, whose involvement gives the album added critical and commercial cache. With a large and loyal fan base, they could be as big as Dave Matthews and could bring string-based rootsiness to the mainstream. Or not. One thing is for sure: After I And Love And You, they can no longer go back to being the Avett Brothers they once were.” Even though I thought the album was better done than Deusner, I think this album will be the crucial turning point on how the trajectory of their career goes.

Favorite Tracks – “I And Love And You”
“Slight Figure Of Speech”
“Head Full Of Doubt/Road Full Of Promise”

Professional Reviews – Metacritic => 77/100
Stephen Deusner – Pitchfork => 5.8/10
Mark Kemp – Rolling Stone => 3.5/5

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