In Actual D is the first proper transmission to the world from Chicago’s Even Bigger. It’s a fast and furious affair engineered by a power trio with a twin-pronged vocal attack. Their formation is a unique one, but the sound of their music is not. Over the EP’s 17-minute running time, nary a musical moment passes that can’t be directly tied to another artist. For a fledgling band like Even Bigger, that shouldn’t be construed an insult. It’s the opposite. It’s a great start. They’re currently gigging exclusively in Chicago and they just released their first coffee breaks-worth of music. That their 2-year-old sound brings to mind such alt-rock stalwarts as Bad Religion, Barenaked Ladies, They Might Be Giants, R.E.M., and Fugazi should be considered a success.
The seven hard-hitting songs that make up In Actual D employ a double Matt attack on vocals. P. Matthew Hart (bass) and Matthew Myers (guitar) trade lyrical lines like boxers sparring while drummer Ray Losch mashes out rhythms big enough to fill a warehouse. Guitar work is serviceable and never flashy, so the trio moves in efficient unison. Opener “Wrong Again” is the album’s finest moment, built around a razor-sharp guitar snarl and a wry, intelligent set of lyrics. The tune’s catty, shout-able chorus will lodge itself in the listener’s brain for several days. Even Bigger has a way with words and musical approach similar to that of hard-yet-heady bands like X and Bad Religion, and “Wrong Again” is the crowning jewel of that process.
“Wrong Again” is the song they need everyone to hear, but using it as the album opener dulls the impact of the other songs. The band never quite reaches the same metaphorical and musical heights, but there are several solid moments. “Hold Up,” a tame rock number with an awkward narrative and forgettable words, isn’t one of them. But the crisp construction of “By Sea By Sea” charges along with purpose and solid singing, and “Change” is a fun, if formulaic, fuzzed-out pop-punk nugget. Throughout In Actual D, the band proves affable one moment, aggressive the next. There’s a schizophrenic nature to the lyrics that mirrors the music in “Breathe,” where the vocalists take a quirky worldview and the band’s ever-present chugging rock saturates every nanosecond. The last track goes a long way to help make the listener’s memory of the album a favorable one. “You’ll Stay” is a frenetic romp with battering drum work, revved-up tempos, and sudden dramatic downshifts that clocks in at a very punk one minute and fifty-one seconds. In Actual D doesn’t lack for comparisons, but it does its influences honor with quality production, concise songwriting and palpable energy.
Review by Bryan Rodgers
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)