Mention sibling harmonies, and the first name on everyone’s lips is Everly. Talk about twins in a rock band, and inevitably Nelson comes to mind. Take the slickness of the latter and the classic melodies of the former, and the names Evan and Jaron are the ones that fit. Former southeastern club warriors who have been on and off another major label and moved their base of operations to Los Angeles since first gaining attention with a couple self-released efforts in the mid-‘90s, the Lowenstein brothers have found a more commercial sound than ever on this eponymous new disc.
Besides the near-perfect harmonies throughout their songs, Evan and Jaron have developed into first-rate pop songwriters who are unfortunately stuck on the three-and-a-half minute love song. Their sound is almost retro in its clean, crisp production that hearkens back to early Crowded House or The Outfield, and the assistance of co-writers Glen Ballard (of Alanis Morrisette fame) and Dan Wilson (from Semisonic) certainly plays a part as well. The brothers are at their best when they seize upon a particular turn of phrase that’s just the other side of ordinary, like the chorus to “Done Hangin’ on Maybe,” which builds from the song with an “ay-yi-yi’m done hanging on maybe, ” that betrays their southern upbringing while accenting the narrator’s uncertain future in the double meaning of the title.
The familiarity of “From My Hand to My Heart,” may be due to its inclusion in the runaway movie hit Runaway Bride, but the formula of tight chorus and light verse is repeated on the first single, “Crazy for This Girl,” to near perfection. Aside from the ‘80s nostalgia angle, there is a slight Beatles influence evident in songs like, ““Wouldn’t It Be Nice to Be Proud,” a serious message of self-worth concealed in a light, bouncy piano figure and some Beach Boys-style backing vocals, and the McCartney-esque ballad “You Don’t Know Me.”
The California sounds of Brian Wilson are a much better reference than Ricky Nelson’s progeny, to be sure, but Evan and Jaron have a little more growing up to do and a lot more variety needed in their material before their odes to puppy love become Pet Sounds level material.