The Evening Descends… and worlds collide. First you hear the prodigious musical skill: the deft guitar work, the clever pop sensibility, the wild arrangements. But then on other end of the spectrum there is the innocent and youthful charm of a trio of lost boys who seem to have no business making music with such maturity and sophistication. Taken together, you have Evangelicals, a wholly demented ensemble from Norman, OK. Dabbling in glam, slipping in a little funk and soul, drinking the psychedelic Kool-aid, blasting the synths, cranking up the guitars, and wrapping it all up with a dose of pop smarts, The Evening Descends is the first great album of 2008.
Picking up where their 2006 debut So Gone left off, Evangelicals leave behind much of their ADD-addled approach on The Evening Descends, instead taking their wealth of great ideas and harnessing them for good. The hyperactive, overdriven pop is still here, but it is balanced with restraint–not a lot, but enough–that allows the songs to shine through. All this and stories, too: Beneath the shrieks of guitars, keyboard blasts, and proggy space-age grooves, singer/guitarist Josh Jones leads the listener through tales of religion and revivalism, plus insanity, drugs, black-outs, zombies, good and evil, car crashes, love and a mental institution called Bellawood. Jones’s wild narratives and propulsive pop songs are anchored with the right balance of stoicism and wit by bassist/keyboardist Kyle Davis and drummer Austin Stephens.
Still not sure what to make of the madness? Evangelicals’ The Evening Descends just might be Oklahoma’s answer to Prince’s Around the World in a Day, but from the perspective of someone crashing at Pee-Wee’s Playhouse… who happens to have a chainsaw slowly gnawing through his leg. The Evening Descends is crazy, self-assured and above all, a totally wild ride.