|Ages and Ages — Something To Ruin (Aug 19, 2016)|
Ages and Ages — Something To Ruin (Aug 19, 2016)→ Ages and Ages pull back on the reigns slightly, offering up some of their most contemplative work to date but sacrificing some of the joy.
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Genres: Raw choral pop, Brisk indie–folk
Album release: Aug 19, 2016
Recorded: Isaac Brock Studio
Record Label: Partisan Records
01. They Want More 4:42
02. Kick Me Out 3:44
03. Something To Ruin 4:19
04. So Hazy 3:19
05. My Cold Reflection 3:17
06. All of My Enemies 2:05
07. Cascadia Waving Back 3:48
08. I’m Moving 3:34
09. Now I Know 3:21
10. Caught Up In It 4:52
11. As It Is 3:26
→ Tim Perry — guitar, vocals
→ Sarah Riddle — percussion, vocals
→ Rob Oberdorfer — bass, vocals
→ Annie Bethancourt — guitar, percussion, vocals
→ Colin Jenkins — keyboard, vocals
→ Evan Railton — drums
By Jim Vorel | August 19, 2016 | 3:07pm | Score: 8.1
→ The beautifully simplistic music video for “They Want More,” the lead single off Ages and Ages’ new album Something to Ruin (out today on Partisan Records) depicts a slowly melting ice cream cone, seemingly symbolic of the mounting pressures and stressors also piling up around the young woman who is the video’s sole star. Only by eventually setting torch to the mountain of possessions does the woman seemingly free herself from their spiritual weight, and that in itself appears to be a metaphor for Ages and Ages’ perspective on Something to Ruin. It’s an incisive, passionate but calculated album of sonically adventurous choral pop that, while not quite as joyous as their 2014 head-turner Divisionary, displays every bit of the band’s trademark positivity.
→ The record was partially inspired by a trip that singer Tim Perry and bassist Rob Oberdorfer took through central America, where they visited indigenous ruins surrounded by the encroaching rain forest — “a tangible reminder of the impermanence of human civilization and the resilience of nature.” Back in their home of Portland, OR, though, Perry and co. drew parallels between one civilization’s collapse and their seeming distaste for Portland’s own gentrification, or what they refer to as “a frenzy of real estate development and lifestyle branding.” One could blow it off as a certain brand of millennial hipsterism, ‘ala “Portland just isn’t cool any more,” but Ages and Ages has always been a sincere act, and a listener with an open heart can likely empathize with their preference for the genuine and sincere over the cold and corporate, even if it seems a tad dramatic.
→ Fans who have followed Ages and Ages through Divisionary and their first album, Alright You Restless, will pick up on a few sonic evolutions. Synth sounds complement the expected keys on tracks such as “Something to Ruin” and “Kick Me Out,” both of which also feature chugging, almost proggy electric guitar breakdowns that cast a slightly darker specter. “Something to Ruin” in particular closes with a grandiose flourish, featuring a spectacular flute part lilting above the choral harmonies. A track like “So Hazy,” on the other hand, seems closer to the Ages and Ages of the past, with its at times sprechgesang vocals traded between Perry and backup singers Sarah Riddle and Annie Bethancourt — one of whom sounds oddly like Pomplamoose singer Nataly Dawn at times.
→ Still, if you’re wondering if anything on Something to Ruin can match the sheer operatic, feel–good anthem quality of Divisionary’s “Do the Right Thing,” the answer is probably no, not quite. This album is a little less emotional, a little bit more contemplative. It does have one great, soaring anthem in “As It Is,” though, a beautiful song with a full choir chorus that assures the listener “you’re gonna find your peace in anonymity.” One presumes they’re once again referring to the relative peace of leaving behind baggage and some form of infamy, rather than the prospects of the band itself. “As it is,” Ages and Ages is a musical project that still deserves to be far from anonymous. → https://www.pastemagazine.com/
→ If Ages and Ages’ debut album Alright You Restless declared independence from the cynicism and self–consciousness plaguing a generation; and the follow-up Divisionary was an exercise in confronting change, conflict, and loss; Something to Ruin addresses the debris of our collective failures and asks whether we might be better off letting go and starting over. Recorded at Isaac Brock’s studio (Ice Cream Party), the band’s third album is still full of their infectious and joyful melodies while also reflecting on several serious existential themes.
→ Early on in the writing process of this record, band leaders Tim Perry and Rob Oberdorfer traveled to Central America and visited indigenous ruins partly engulfed by surrounding forests — a tangible reminder of the impermanence of human civilization and the resilience of nature. Back at home in Portland, Oregon, their community was being engulfed by something entirely different. Like so many other cities around the country, rapid growth and development were changing both its landscape and culture.
→ Something to Ruin came out of this reflection, exploring what it’s like to watch your surroundings implode in a frenzy of real estate development and lifestyle branding. Songs like “Kick Me Out”and “My Cold Reflection” describe an existence where almost everything is monetized and loses it’s meaning. The album’s first track “They Want More,” deals with the struggle to live an honest life in this type of superficial cultural landscape.
→ To set the stage for this narrative, Tim and Rob embraced synthetic sounds and artificial textures — a marked difference from the organic and documentarian approach on their previous albums. The record is also more groove–laden, with electronic experimentation pushed to the surface. Tim’s vocal melodies and the richly layered harmonies of Sarah Riddle, Annie Bethancourt, Colin Jenkins and Oberdorfer mirror themes about the power (and impotence) of the individual and the need for community.
→ Isaac Brock’s unmistakable, marbled baritone and guitar jumps out on “So Hazy” and traces of old Modest Mouse can also be heard in the discordant and mechanical noises that bubble to the surface on the album’s title track and “All of My Enemies.” If there is an anthem on Something to Ruin comparable to “No Nostalgia” and “Divisionary (Do the Right Thing),” it resides in the album’s final track “As It Is” which contains the trademark exultant vocals that endear the band to its fans.
→ What’s most perplexing about Ages and Ages is their ability to address themes of isolation, obscurity, and rejection of the well–paved path while still infusing their songs with an infectious hope and earnestness that brings even the most cynical listener into the fold. It could be why President Obama felt compelled to add their song to his personal reelection campaign playlist, or a high school choir in Burkina Faso posted a video of them singing an Ages song, and why NPR claims their music “could actually change your life.”
|Ages and Ages — Something To Ruin (Aug 19, 2016)|