These are Colton’s first impressions of Speak in Code. Read Dan’s here.
Alright Eve 6 fans, get your worn albums out and let’s have a talk. Oh, look at you, you’ve got the old Eleventeen record? That’s good, that’s good. You’ll be the most disappointed of all.
These guys have rounded the bases before, and that 2004 show under the arch was a walk-off home run for the ages. But don’t come into Speak in Code expecting another dinger. Or even a ground rule double. In fact, we should probably get off baseball metaphors altogether before I find a way to use “interleague play.”
I’m talking around the fact that this album sounds different because I’m nervous about how you’ll react. And as I do, I’m making it sound worse than it is. So let’s rip off the band-aid:
Eve 6’s sound hasn’t evolved, it’s gotten older.
There is less anger, less violence, less bitterness. It’s All in Your Head in its sweeter moments was still defiant. Here, the lyrical passivity of “Situation Infatuation” and “Moon,” though mild, is emphasized in context by the incomplete vigor of “Lion’s Den” and the friendly chords and gentle choruses across the album. And by whatever general-store toolbag is talking to us in “Trust Me.” Seriously, it’s like the “Sunset Strip Bitch” himself wrote a song for their album.
That throwback angle keeps working: “B.F.G.F.” might as well be the flipside of the “Think Twice” coin, except (again) this time they play the A-hole they used to cuss out. “Tongue Tied” and “Small Town Trap” introduced us to a kid who’s gonna get a job someday and start singing “Downtown.” Now for homework, compare and contrast the dream dates of “Everything” and “Superhero Girl.”
Let’s think about the timeline here. After a seven-year break, Jon Siebels only rejoined the trio in March of 2011, yet is credited as co-writer on most of the tracks. How fast did these get written? There were two- and three-year gaps respectively between earlier releases. It’s not like they haven’t toured recently, either: they’re on the road right now. (By the by, Matt Bair—who filled in for FOUR YEARS until Siebels signed back on—has no credits on the album and no shout-outs on the Thanks page of the liner.)
I should’ve put all that truth on the rocks instead of giving you my feelings straight. Look, there’s good here, it’s just not where my mind states. I love “B.F.G.F.” (or, as it streams on Billboard, “BFDG”), which is a half-step in a different direction and would be an excellent song for any band; it just happens to be Eve 6 adding their stylistic touches. They made a good choice releasing “Lost & Found” to fans before the lead-off single “Victoria,” because while both rock, the former is one of my favorites here. My number one overall goes to the Sugi Tap adaptation “Pick Up the Pieces,” which I remember hearing live in 2008.
Truth is, Speak in Code does seem destined to grow on me. The alt-sick beats and spry wordplay that won me over are still here, with a bass that carries tunes better than most, even though most bassists don’t sing. I flinched pretty hard when I heard a subtext of “life’s not so bad” in the lyrics and felt the melodies undercut by easy spirits, because that’s a change. But Eve 6 will stay in heavy rotation for the next few weeks, and I’ll probably be fully on board by mid-May when we get into interleague play. Count it!