National Skyline’s This = Everything is all about mood and atmosphere. Mysterious and lonely, National Skyline builds meaning out of drum loops, purring guitars, and the hushed vocals of Jeff Garber. Deceptively gentle, This = Everything is a reflective take on the modern world, where magic and beauty still exist beneath the surfaces of technology.
Far from being about the emptiness of everyday life, This = Everything tackles the search for significance in ordinary relationships, whether they’re personal or public. While there is a certain sorrow that permeates this album, there’s a sense of optimism, from the hypnotic opening track “Some Will Say” to even the ominous final track, “Grandstanding”. Even when things are at their darkest (and This = Everything never quite becomes upbeat, so that is often), the message answers can be found as long as people seek them.
No one element of National Skyline’s music is given priority over the others. Lead singer Garber treats his voice like another one of the instruments, rising in and out, transferring importance back and forth from the vocals to the arrangement of the song. While the effect is subtly manipulative, it becomes clear when listeners should focus on either the lyrics or the overall effect of the music.
National Skyline is not as straightforward as they may seem, but lead listeners along with them, transitioning from glistening, layered arrangements like “A Million Circles” to nimbly spare tracks like “Make It Stop”. These shifts never jarring listeners away from the entire effect of the album as a whole, which seems to be the most important thing that National Skyline is trying to achieve with This = Everything.
With a sparse grace, National Skyline has created beauty out of what seems like nothing. This elegant and moving collection of songs is both disarming and comforting, and fills the complicated spaces between the emotional life and the intellectual one. This = Everything does encompass everything that makes up life.