Evermore: Real Life

By Rebecca Barry Hill

Herald rating: * * *

If things don't work out for the Hume brothers, they could always go to the Finn brothers for work. Or more specifically, to Neil, whose wife owns a chandelier shop.

Need a jingle, Sharon? No worries. On their second album, Evermore sing of surrounding light, guiding light, shooting stars, morning stars, shadows, darkness, night and all things shiny.

On one hand, the recurring theme suits the brothers. Their debut album Dreams was rudely ignored by the New Zealand public, and it wasn't until It's Too Late was awarded a Silver Scroll that they were confirmed as hometown stars.

Sonically, too, Real Life is a an album full of twinkling pianos, rippling guitars and a sunny optimism that could come only from three young, mild-mannered men who literally have the world at their feet (see the video Running for proof).

It's also a step in a bold but accessible new direction.

You could argue that radio programmers here didn't jump all over Dreams because there were too many quirks and unsettling moods. But on Real Life, all the dreaming is done with eyes wide open, arms out wide and amps plugged in.

Aside from the almost gospel-like references to light, everything here feels more majestic and polished, as though each song is vying for bigger anthemic status than the last.

The first half of the album, with rousing tracks like Running, Unbreakable (which sounds very much like early U2) and Never Let You Go show Evermore at their finest.

But they still have room to grow in the songwriting department in terms of that recurring theme, a few samey chord progressions and their tendency to write nursery rhyme couplets: "I wake up, I've been sleeping in my bed, when I get up ... music's playing in my head."

You have to wonder too if their boss Seymour Stein (the man who launched Madonna, the Ramones and Talking Heads and who is now aiming to break them in the US) eliminated all the risky, difficult tracks, the kind that would have appeared on Dreams, allowing only the wisftul, quiet ballads of a slower tempo to make the cut.

The mood here seems to be on a very even keel, as though someone has sand-papered over the edges.

That said, this is a bright album. It's doubtful they'll ever need to give the Finns a call.

Label: Warner

Evermore play Big Day Out '07 on the Orange Stage

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