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It's a Musical

For Year and Years

(Morr; US: 10 Apr 2012; UK: 16 Mar 2012)

For a small time period, contemporary music seemed like it was over-saturated with duo acts and it became increasingly difficult to separate several of them. Though that trend has faded considerably, it wouldn’t have been particularly difficult for It’s A Musical to be recognizable. Their sound occasionally borders on twee-pop and they keep things light always doing the male/female harmony for their vocal delivery, much like the Raveonettes. It’s A Musical excel in light and airy music that’s still intriguing enough to warrant the attention of anyone fortunate enough to get to listen.


Always inviting and never overpowering is the aesthetic that It’s A Musical seem to live by. To their credit, they inject it with a healthy amount of DIY. The only additional person credited with studio work on For Years and Years was Norman Nitzsche, who mixes albums. Otherwise For Years and Years stands unmistakably as the work of Ella Blix and Robert Kretzschmar, the tireless multi-instrumentalists who call themselves It’s A Musical. Their personality and singularity, as such, is largely uninhibited and their records are the best representations of themselves that they can give. Fortunately for us, they’re unique and engaging characters on their own with serious songwriting chops.


Beginning with the records title track, their energy becomes infectious and warrants the listeners attention. Their musical palette is relatively simple and never over-reaches or adds on any more that’s necessary. That commitment to simplicity and practicality should help set them apart from several of their contemporaries. It helps to demonstrate their raw talent and present them in an undeniably honest fashion. The following track, “As Soon As I”, assumes the same giddy atmosphere and it becomes hard to imagine the duo playing this music without smiling. It’s fairly evident that they genuinely enjoy the material and are having actual fun with it, which can be a breath of fresh air considering the tendency to gravitate towards the overly serious side of things that plagues several contemporary acts.


As the record progresses, it becomes clear that For Years and Years doesn’t contain any actual highlights because all of the songwriting is so uniformly excellent. As a long player, its sequenced perfectly and never loses its footing or pace, playing out wonderfully. Every song is an enjoyable one that doesn’t deviate from the consistency of near-greatness that For Years and Years is heavily imbued with, which is part of what makes it stand out. For Years and Years is an incredibly joyous listening experience without pounding that goal into the listeners head. It’s A Musical are smart enough to know that they don’t need to be incessantly reminding you to have fun while listening to their material, they play it with the ease of veterans who understand that’s the effect the music will have on their audience.


The records halfway point is marked with “The Team That Never Wins”, which may just barely stand out as the records best song. It also serves as a fair indicator of what both the first and last half of For Years and Years contains. It’s an important piece to a pretty great record. For Years and Years’ latter half kicks off with two of the records more experimental tracks, the percussion driven “Fish Song”, and the vocal-trading “Ljubljana”. Both songs stay in keeping with being reliably consistent as really good indie pop tracks while showcasing what the band can offer when it decides to tinker with its formula.


Those two tracks start a run up to the final song “Bring It On” that never sees the band tiring or the record wavering. Every track is a worthwhile one that’d be the perfect addition to any pop mixtape. It’s A Musical make seriously accessible music but, to their credit, they don’t sacrifice the quality to get there. For Years and Years will be more than worth most peoples time and, more than likely, it’ll have them smiling.

Rating:

Steven is a writer, musician, and filmmaker from Wisconsin who has spent his fair share of time in the entertainment trenches. He frequently contributes reviews and interviews to Playground Misnomer, which can be accessed here: http://www.playgroundmisnomer.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @unbusyinwi.


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It's a Musical - For Years and Years
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18 Feb 2009
A set of concise, frequently beautiful guitar-free pop marred by some really aggravating lyrics.
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