Seventeen Evergreen’s new album, “Steady On, Scientist!” is a joyous, life affirming collection of songs. I thought it best to get that out of the way right from the start. Sometimes things are so self-evident that a lengthy introduction or explanatory preamble becomes unnecessary. They are not prolific; their first album, “Life Embarrasses Me On Planet Earth” was released back in 2005, but this album has been worth the wait. The multi-instrumentalist duo of Caleb Pate and Nephi Evans has produced a truly eclectic album fusing 80s electro pop, dance beats, ambient keyboards, acoustic guitar and drums with a decidedly quirky take on life. Watch the video to album opener “Polarity Song” if you can and you’ll get the idea. And while there are darker, more contemplative moments, the whole thing seems imbued with great dollops of Californian sunshine.
Both the aforementioned “Polarity Song” and “Burn The Fruit (Pegasus)” have a pop sensibility vaguely reminiscent of The Cardigans, built on light, happy melodies. “Bucky” combines a dance beat with an Indie vibe, all contained within an arrangement that uses the space between the instrumentation to great effect.
Arriving in a glorious ‘60s hipster mix of shuffling drums, acoustic guitar, melodic bass line and Hammond organ, “President Clavioline” needs to be played in an open top car on the way to a summer beach party. Its groovy, beatnik sound echoes the wonderfully devil-may-care lyrics:
‘Ladies and gentlemen, I could have been the President, so I was told back when I was so much younger that it might have meant something.’
But Seventeen Evergreen is not content to stay on the beach, partying the night away: they have a job to do and never lose sight of that fact. They’re here to deliver a unique and engaging listening experience, and with “Del Paso Heights” they allow themselves take the pace down a notch with a wistful, almost melancholy song:
‘..Our days are like paper, burning slowly.’
The changes of mood and style continue throughout the album as Seventeen Evergreen delivers dance beats with driving bass lines a la New Order in “Wasting Time/Castlefield”, ambient new age keyboards that make up the mid section of “Burn The Fruit (Pegasus)” and some truly off the wall instrumentation in “Dancespider”. The sound is both nostalgic and contemporary, referencing recognisable musical styles while maintaining both individuality and originality. “Steady On, Scientist!” is an album of exploration and the trying out of new things. Never still, it chooses instead to move through whichever musical landscape is most engaging and which offers the most opportunity for creativity.
If you like music that is joyous and creative; that makes reference to its influences but is not pastiche; that is unselfconsciously experimental; and which might just become the soundtrack to the summer of 2012, then try this album and join Seventeen Evergreen in embracing the polarity of life.