We Were Evergreen don’t operate in a soundscape that can be translated easily into writing. They don’t sound particularly close to any band I’ve really engaged with in the past, operating I suppose in a twilight zone between Vampire Weekend, Everything Everything, James Blake, and Friendly Fires. The French-born, London-based trio are therefore incredibly cosmopolitan. Surprisingly, considering the veritable plethora of diverse influences, their debut, Towards, is extremely well rounded and wholesome, with very few protrusions or disparate elements. With this in mind, We Were Evergreen’s first effort can be described as a success, a fitting culmination of the extremely promising act I saw around six months ago supporting Villagers at the Exeter Phoenix.
Having said that, I should get my only significant criticism leveled towards Towards out of the way – at times it can be infuriatingly inoffensive. We Were Evergreen’s public image can only be described as a charm onslaught; they’re an endearing lot and this translates into their live shows. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being charming, however those like Chris Martin of Coldplay who are effectively so, avoid falling into the trap of being nauseating. We Were Evergreen at times teeter on the very precipice of self-immersion in sickly sweetness. The Best Thing, which surfaces mid-way through the album is perhaps the worst offender in this vein, coming across a tad too cutesy for its own good. Whilst the vast majority of the album does not suffer from this problem, it may prove to be a cause for concern as the band develops.
Still, the remainder of Towards can be viewed as a masterpiece of assimilation of multiple components into a cogent whole. We Were Evergreen succeed in creating a timbre that is clearly a kaleidoscope of influences, yet clearly ‘new’; this makes their debut an intensely enjoyable and promising piece of work. False Start is an obvious highlight, sounding a bit like an extremely mellowed interpretation of the flash-in-the-pan alt-pop of Late Of The Pier. Meanwhile, Quicksand has a pleasingly slow tempo to it, with clear nods to the ambience of James Blake and his ilk. One of the main musical selling points of this track and Daughters is the extremely effective overlapping of male and female vocals, a versatile limb of We Were Evergreen’s corpus that copes equally well in discordant and harmonious form. Having watched the band display this craft and their mélange of influences so effectively live, it’s extremely gratifying to see it translate to record so successfully.
The album fizzles out a bit towards the end, as Tambourine Like A Crown and Golden Fire don’t really reach the same standard of the tracks that precede them. Yet judging by the quality of the previous, you should cut the band some slack. Overall, Towards is an extremely impressive piece of work, a testament to one of the more original new bands that have surfaced as-of-yet this year. I recommend checking it out on Spotify, and of course going to watch We Were Evergreen live if they come down to Devon again.