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Album Review: Make Do And Mend - Everything You Ever Loved

Within seconds of listening to Make Do and Mend’s sophomore album, “Everything You Ever Loved”, it is clear that the band have grown since their 2010 debut “End Measured Mile”. Intro track ‘Blur’ begins with vocalist James Carroll asking pertinently whether or not you would continue with “everything that you ever loved, if it was killing you this slow”, accompanied by nothing more than a single guitar line. The heavy, gravel-throated yell that drove “End Measured Mile” isn’t immediately apparent. Carroll is singing, and he is singing well. For the Make Do and Mend vocalist, the ‘everything’ in question is the band itself; their music, his passion, and now more than ever his voice needs to be heard.

Over the course of the records’ 11 tracks, Carroll deconstructs, searching for the fire that fueled “End Measured Mile”, that fueled Make Do and Mend. The result of his personal rebuilding is “Everything You Ever Loved”, and the singer’s personal introspection has helped produce the most varied and dynamic work of the band’s young career.

Along with ‘Blur’, ‘Disassemble’ and ‘Count’ create a powerful opening triumvirate, the wrecking crew for Carroll’s doubt. Several allusions to his fingers, such as ‘Count’’s “I’ll cross my fingers and pray that they don’t break” display his fears over the worth of what he has built, about what his life has amounted to. Whilst this trio may not tread too far from the path worn on “End Measured Mile”, they perfectly form the difficult background upon which “Everything You Ever Loved” is painted.

‘St. Anne’ is the first track to showcase the bands’ evolution, and may be the finest track on the record. Coming across more Jimmy Eat World than Hot Water Music, the song marks the first time the band are prepared to take their foot from the accelerator. The driving quality of the previous three cuts is briefly shelved, Carroll’s personal introspection reflected sonically. What results is the most atmospheric, beautiful song the band has yet produced. Lead guitar lines skirt and shimmy throughout the album, but never is this more apparent than here.

You sense that this is a song that would not be possible without the fears and hardships that accompanied its creation, and, along with ‘Royal’, ‘Drown In It’ and ‘Desert Lily’, demonstrates the flexing of the creative talent at work in Make Do and Mend. If “End Measured Mile” showed that they can nail that fast-paced, punk-y sound, the variation on “Everything You Ever Loved” proves that the band are just as skilful when taking a step back.

The space provided for the songs to breathe brings Carroll’s fantastic lyricism to the fore. Whilst the majority of the album deals with specific issues – many almost unique to a member of a touring band – there are numerous shining examples of their universal appeal. At once aggressive and tender, Carroll’s words create a picture that can be shaded any personal hue. It is to the credit of the band that an album dealing so explicitly with “finding new ways to burn, disassemble, disappear…” can equally be presented as deconstruction or progression, and Carroll’s writing plays a huge part in this.

Despite questioning his ‘everything’ at the start of the album, it is for the benefit of music in 2012 that Carroll refused to let it go. Instead, he has rediscovered his fire, and Make Do and Mend have produced one of the finest albums of the year so far, as many parts heavy and driven as atmospheric and beautiful. On ‘Lucky’, Carroll challenges himself: “give in, fade out/raise the bar or set it down”. There is nothing lucky about his choosing the bar.


"Everything You Ever Loved" is out now on Rise Records.

James Tremain

Alter The Press!