Evan Weiss’ career as singer-songwriter and ‘emo godfather’ Into It. Over It. (IIOI) has been anything but typical. Beginning in 2007 as a bedroom solo-project, the Chicago native challenged himself to write, record and release one song every week for a year. Successful, these songs were released as a compilation titled 52 Weeks. 7 years later, Weiss has a handful of successful EPs and two full-length albums under his belt. Each project features a blend of technical and melodic guitar playing, tied together with dynamic vocals and heartfelt lyrics. IIOI’s third full-length Standards (Triple Crown Records) is not only the furthest departure from the emo genre tag they’ve become famous for pioneering, it’s their best since 2011’s debut Proper.
IIOI’s new direction is apparent from the outset; the gentle acoustic chords and accompanying piano melody of ‘Open Casket’ give way to ‘Closing Argument’, which balances a jangly guitar tone atop more keys. This more mature sound is continued on lead single ‘No EQ’; a rolling drum beat crescendos into the album’s first memorable chorus. Occasionally this maturity can verge on boring; ‘Bible Black’ and ‘Required Reading’ pass-by without making much of an impact. Weiss’ punk background ensures that the track listing ebbs and flows at a relatively quick pace, but had some of the more atmospheric moments been more drawn-out, they may have had a greater impact.
Standards comes into its own around track five, with the triple hit of ‘Your Lasting Image’, ‘Old Lace and Ivory’ and ‘Adult Contempt’ a snapshot of Evan Weiss’ entire career as IIOI. The longest song on the album, ‘Your Lasting Image’ is a swelling, stirring ballad reminiscent of IIOI’s second full-length Intersections. The picked acoustic guitar of ‘Old Lace and Ivory’ features the kind of subtle vocal delivery Weiss’ has become famous for and acts as a juxtaposition to ‘Adult Contempt’, a peek into the technical indie riffs of Weiss’ past.
Throughout his career Evan Weiss has established himself as one of the most prolific, tirelessly-driven and ultimately, talented musicians in the underground punk community. With an album as bold as Standards, it would be a crime for the mainstream to not be drawn to his uniquely charming sound.