The Evens - The Odds (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Evens

The Odds (2012)


This year saw Ian MacKaye return to music. And while it wasn't with Fugazi (or Minor Threat…or Embrace…or even the Teen Idles), the Evens' belated third album The Odds is still a welcome return from one of hardcore's greatest musicians. It's also arguably the duo's best record to date. MacKaye and drummer/vocalist Amy Farina have a weird way of complementing each other, gloriously.

The Evens are still very much the mellowest band for both members, but it's interesting hearing how they intertwine. If you listen to something like "Sooner or Later," the guitar part MacKaye plays sounds like it's a few few decibels away from a Fugazi part. It's stuttering, it's somewhat indebted to reggae and it has this awesome power. With a little dash of distortion, this would make for a great post-hardcore riff. But Farina hangs back, opting for a half time groove that Fugazi rarely employed, and it creates this amazing push/pull dynamic. Admittedly, the pair use this trick a few times too many (also, while we're at it, some of the songs don't really end so much as stop whenever), but the way MacKaye charges ahead while Farina defies the downbeat is something to celebrate.

The Odds also packs in some quieter fare, such as "Competing With the Till" and "I Do Myself," that fits in with what people probably expect from the band, but it's honestly surprising how effectively the Evens can rock. For all the talk about how MacKaye isn't so angry anymore, tracks like "Wanted Criminals" find him digging deep for that fabled bark to deliver lines like "Need a job / People need something to do / They're getting angry." There's your Occupy slogan right there.

Dischord, and MacKaye himself, have slowed down over the last few years, but when the label and the man pop up again, it's always worth paying attention. While The Odds seems to have had a short gestation after a long break, it feels like a breakthrough for the group, and a welcome one at that.