The beauty of the Avett Brothers is their approachability. You hit the chorus, and you can’t help but sing along. You listen to their lyrics, and you fall in love. You can get exactly what you want out of their music because they’re patient. The group’s folksiness is a fun, indie façade.
The Brothers’ seventh album, The Carpenter, which arrived Tuesday, covers themes ranging from a parent’s grief to bitter breakups to an ambitious ballad about “Life” itself. With this latest effort, the Brothers show off not only their plucky skills on the banjo but also an ambition to become a force of rock. “Paul Newman Vs. the Demons” is more intense than the band’s usual bluegrassy crooning. The album culminates in the sound that started in “I and Love and You” but has been emerging for a while.
The Brothers incorporate everything from break-ups to religious anxiety. And surprisingly, the distinct, even overt Christian motifs do not detract from their jam-band appeal (The Carpenter? Get it?). They provide a refreshingly meaningful collection of poetry compared to, say, Ke$ha’s admirable attempt to string words together, “Blah Blah Blah.” The Avett Brothers are able to achieve pop stardom without compromising their lyrical beauty. Listen to the poignancy of their drawling North Carolinian accents, and you will have to admit I’m right.
But you don’t have to listen to the words to enjoy the ride; these guys are fun on the surface too. The Brothers walked into my life when I fortuitously inherited some tickets to their concert two years ago. Not knowing a lick about indie folk-rock and pronouncing their name “Ah-vet” as opposed to “AY-vet,” I walked out dreaming of a “January Wedding.”
On the Brothers’ newest offering look out for “Live and Die”, a track with serious pop-chart potential. There’s also the fun, frolicsome “I Never Knew You,” an upbeat number that proves pop music can exist without auto-tune.
The band falls short, however, with “Geraldine,” which has a weird tinkling in the background that obscures the merit of the song. Fortunately it ends quickly, and the rest of the record’s tracks more than make up for its mediocre instrumentals. Go listen to “February Seven” and “Through My Prayers.” Right now. They’re the perfect mellow melodies to study or relax to. If you’re more interested in hearing how the Brothers have changed as a group over time, check out “Pretty Girl From Michigan,” which is another in a series of songs about noticeable faces from various places, beginning with “Pretty Girl from Matthews.” The different ladies “from Raleigh,” “from Chile,” etc. document the evolution of this ever-changing folk band.
Whether you’re looking to ponder the complexities of prayer or to press on after a difficult breakup, The Carpenter has something to offer.