Album Review: I’m Glad It’s You — “Every Sun, Every Moon”
Posted: by The Editor
Toward the end of his recent book Egress: On Mourning, Melancholy and Mark Fisher, Matt Colquhoun considers the personal experience of writing the book, largely a work of cultural criticism, as part and parcel of his process of mourning the death of his teacher, cultural theorist Mark Fisher. “The process of writing this book has always been personal, functional, and therapeutic,” Colquhoun writes. “It is a para-academic’s neurotic attempt to work through grief in the only way he knows how.” In moments of profound loss, you turn to the tools that you have at your disposal to make any sense of it that you can.
For Colquhoun, those tools manifested themselves in an analysis of and extended rumination on Fisher’s work, grounded in the politics of community. But I think about this idea a lot when I listen to Every Sun, Every Moon, the new album from I’m Glad It’s You, heavy as it is with its own sense of loss.
Written in the wake of a van accident that took the life of the band’s close friend and mentor Chris Avis, Every Sun, Every Moon depicts grief in real time, overwhelming and constantly in motion. This is the sound of a band working through profound loss using the tools at their disposal, emerging with an album of melodic, cathartic, and varied pop-rock songs.
For an album that places death and loss at the center of its little world, Every Sun, Every Moon often sounds exuberant. The first proper song, “Big Sound,” is a wonderful rush, built on a wailing riff that worms into your ear and takes firm hold. The chorus (“I know there’s no coming back from this one, back from this one”) is simple and repetitive in the best kind of way, instantly singable and full of energy.
The perceived brightness of “Big Sound” isn’t exactly an act of smoke and mirrors, but the full picture comes together slowly, little details building one on top of the other to a terrible scene—an ambulance, a book of hymns, blood in the desert. The shift comes toward the end, when vocalist Kelley Bader’s line “you left a Big Sound moving through my spirit” instigates the quelling of the band behind him, his last word echoing off distant walls, the lyrics taking a more pointed turn. “Now I can feel it work it’s way into all that I see/ a future painted by grief,” he sings later on, bringing a new intensity to a chorus about never being able to go back to the way things were.
Like “Big Sound,” many of the songs on Every Sun, Every Moon play out like the band can’t help but write empowering pop-rock, like they’re doing what feels natural to them, only realizing what the song is about when they’re in too deep to turn back. “Ordinary Pain” opens with a dizzying onslaught of glittering guitars and boasts a gigantic chorus. But the moment Bader delivers the song’s most harrowing line—”I’d give everything that I have for just a few minutes back”—the song lurches forward into a nebulous, mellow finale.
Likewise, the brilliant “Silent Ceremony” is a fervent and determined rock song that forgoes a final rendition of its shining, exhilarating chorus to end in the pursuit of a pummeling apex. The song comes to a whirlwind close when Bader’s harmonies with Sierra Aldulaimi coalesce into a drawn-out question directed at an endless void—”will I see you soon?”
But Every Sun, Every Moon doesn’t spend its time deploying the same tactics to approach and understand its subject. The album has all the makings of an emo classic, taking a kaleidoscopic view of some key genre touchstones to create something distinct and well-defined. Many of the poppier songs on the album recall Valencia’s own pop-punk treatise on death and loss, We All Need a Reason to Believe. Traces of Hostage Calm and Tigers Jaw glimmer through songs like “Silent Ceremony” and “Ordinary Pain.” The anthemic stature of songs like the title track and “The Things I Never Said” recall the best moments of The Promise Ring’s Nothing Feels Good, an album that was also produced by J. Robbins, who brings a raw pop sensibility to these songs that lets them feel big but imperfect, a real manifestation of an experience still being lived.
But, of all the reference points that Every Sun, Every Moon brings to my mind, the one that I favor and think about the most is Copeland’s wide-eyed 2003 debut Beneath Medicine Tree. That’s an album that felt like the very beginning of a storied career, trying on many different hats while never losing sight of what the band wanted to do. I’m Glad It’s You’s most interesting swings on this album recall that album—like the delicate mellotron interlude “Death is Close” and the flickering slow burn of “Lazarus.”
Beneath Medicine Tree also meditates on tragedy through the constantly shifting lens of mourning in process, and like that album, Every Sun, Every Moon feels like the product of abrupt and devastating change. The climax and focal point of the album is the lead single “Myths,” which carries a special thematic weight in the penultimate spot. A lazily strummed acoustic guitar swirls into a elegiac but colorful mid-tempo tune that leads to the only possible resolution for a traumatic experience that in many ways can’t reach a proper conclusion. “There’s a hallelujah, and I’m learning how to sing,” Bader sings with a quiet awe.
In the same way that Matt Colquhoun’s instinctual reaction to loss was to turn to his work as a language for wading through the aftermath, Bader and I’m Glad It’s You show with Every Sun, Every Moon that, after the unthinkable happens, we carry on the only way we know how.
Jordan Walsh | @jordalsh
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