Ivan & Alyosha: The Verse, the Chorus

[10 December 2009]

By Mariana Gudino

Back in Seattle, an ever-growing indie music hub, Tim Wilson and Ryan Carbary are better known as Ivan & Alyosha.  Now, with the widespread rerelease of their first EP, The Verse, the Chorus, the pair is sure to take local buzz to the next level. The nearly two years of work invested into their debut EP are instantly noticeable; the album is moved by an undeniable thoughtfulness, product of the musicians’ honest dedication to their craft.

Starting off with “Beautiful Lle”, the seven songs that make up The Verse, the Chorus shift through effortless transitions until the very end. Listening to the first track, it’s easy get a good idea of what Ivan and Alyosha is shooting for: good natured, straightforward pop goodness. And like most songs on the EP, “Beautiful Lle” is a well-rounded effort.

Amongst Oasis-like guitar riffs, “Once and Future” follows suit. Throughout the song (and most of the album), gently arranged backup vocals complete the concept of an ethereal brit-pop rendition. When heard carefully, tiny details throughout the record reveal the careful and dedicated production that went into The Verse, the Chorus.

Endearing choruses, lovely backups, and caring vocals: there is nothing really aggressive about the lyrics or arrangements on The Verse, the Chorus; delicate is an accurate term.  Case in point, “You´re really easy to love / And I can´t take it / My heart is aching” exclaim the lyrics on the accordingly titled “Easy to Love”. Abundant claps, heavy drums, gentle guitars and building whistles gradually take strength, but ultimately, simplicity (both instrumentally and lyrically) makes this one an easy, congenial hit.

Though production-wise there is very little to criticize, the content of the EP is nothing less than familiar since, unfortunately, the duo wears their Myspace “influence list” right on their sleeve. The Beatles, Queen, Wilco…  Besides, The Verse, the Chorus is exactly that proverbial: a verse, a chorus, and the occasional bridge. And though very well done, the songs have a predictable structure that does everything but keep you on the edge of your seat.

“Some Friend You Are” is actually able to use this repetitive pattern in its favor; “I thought you were a friend of mine” Wilson indignantly sings over and over again. It´s because of tracks like this that Ivan & Alyosha earns some hard-earned praise for their melodic capabilities.  “Wish I Knew” and “You´re on to Something” both share a truly amazing vocal clarity and boast beautiful melodies all around. While the first is an uncomplicated heartfelt tune, the second brands itself with a little more Americana.

Amongst the natural transitions, applaud-worthy melodies, and gratifying consistency presented on The Verse, the Chorus, there is no doubt that Ivan & Alyosha have what it takes. And though there is always room for improvement (journeying further from their retro adjustments is a must) the twosome has accomplished a truly pure, sprightly, good natured pop album.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/115968-ivan-alyosha-the-verse-the-chorus/