Published May 14, 2020When the curtain rises on I'm Glad It's You's Every Sun, Every Moon to the "Hallelujah"-esque piano arpeggios of "Desert Days," you may get an innate sense that you're about to hear something special — an album that's going to be full of feeling and the search for meaning, caught between sadness and a strange sort of joy. If this occurs to you, rest assured that you're right.
The second album from this California emo group is a triumph born out of great pain. In 2017, singer-guitarist Kelley Bader was at the wheel when the band's van rolled over and crashed, leaving the band with minor injuries but killing their friend and mentor Chris Avis at age 31. Every Sun, Every Moon is the musicians' way of turning a tragic, life-altering event into an opus that captures both the hardship of losing someone and gratitude for having known them at all.
You can point to a few different albums from the same scene that have wrestled with death in similar ways as this one does: Sorority Noise's You're Not as _____ as You Think, the Hotelier's Home, Like NoPlace Is There, Gang of Youths' The Positions and Touché Amoré's Stage Four, for example. Like those albums, Every Sun, Every Moon gives grief the care and attention it's owed while also exploding with the celebration of life. Recorded with J. Robbins (Jimmy Eat World, the Promise Ring, Against Me!), the record handles its subject with vitality and grace. It's loudly exuberant in its presentation but quietly devastating in its introspection. In short, music about death and grief rarely sounds this uplifting and thrillingly alive.
"Big Sound" is a vast, open-air rock tune that finds Bader looking out from the back of the ambulance that day: "There's no coming back from this one," he sings, the words ringing out in stark contrast with the sprightly song. "Silent Ceremony" is another soaring, fast-paced song that acknowledges the long process of grieving: "There's no ancient rite / No mystic sign / No magic cure to wash the hurt." These are anthems that cry out in pain, but anthems nonetheless.
The band show their Britpop influence on "Myths," which will sound familiar if you've ever heard "Champagne Supernova" by a band called Oasis. "Lazarus" not only alludes to a biblical figure who overcame death, but also shares its title with a similarly styled song from David Bowie's final album, Blackstar. "The Silver Cord" would feel right at home on Somos's modern synth-rock record Prison on a Hill (an album not about death but haunted by it nonetheless). I'm Glad It's You keep one foot in the grave and the other in paradise with "Death Is Close," a folksy, flowery tune that gives an Arcadian feel to a grim truth. Crossing the quiet intensity of A Black Mile to the Surface with the tender sentimentality of Transatlanticism, "Lost My Voice" delivers the record's most heartbreaking blow: "The joy and grief covered up by the guilt in between / So when it all comes out, it's how come him and why not me?"
This is a big, momentous album from a relatively unknown band; it's the kind that can instantly lift a group into indie royalty. Spend some time with Every Sun, Every Moon, and it may find a special place in you, one that inspires feeling, meaning, sadness and a strange sort of joy — like an old friend gone, but never forgotten. (6131)