Formerly apart of Chicago indie rock act Scattered Trees, Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci, and Ryne Estwing had to face the music back in 2012 when their previous band dissolved: continue as a reformed Scattered Trees, or challenge themselves and create new music with a fresh start.
Fortunately the trio chose the latter; the same year brought the arrival of ON AN ON, the relocation to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and their debut album Give In. Almost a revival of sorts to their spirit and creativity, the band’s latest release And The Wave Has Two Sides transfers their indie rock sound over to a new place in the indie synth-pop genre, working out a stronger electronic influence.
Although the genre of synth-pop tends to have an upbeat flare and energetic livelihood, And The Wave explores the genre’s capacity to touch the shadows of its darker potential. Without dampening the mood and bringing in depressing, dark textures, the result is a refreshing contrast that finds the middle ground between optimist and pessimist. The realism allows the music to go down easier, leaving the listener with a small heartache after dealing with topics such as the inevitable end of a relationship, rejection, and death, but with a bigger sense of realization and acceptance.
Setting the foundation for the lyrical themes, the instrumentation of the tracks create a sense of authenticity and dramatics, swapping polished and perfected, for real and raw. “Behind the Gun” opens the album with a pulsating rhythm and a whispering Eiesland that eventually swells, acting as the album’s “Big Bang” to bring life to the album.
And The Wave Has Two Sides alternates almost poetically between dense and cloudy, to vibrant and spirited. Ranging from cloudy synth pop hooks on “Icon Love”, and “It’s Not Over”, to grungy-dance floor hits “I Can’t Escape It”, and the beautifully honest acoustic single “Drifting”, there are plenty of surprises scattered throughout the record.
Like a puddle that has yet to dry on a hot sunny day, And The Wave Has Two Sides finds the bad things on a good day, and the good things on a bad day.
Stream the full album via Exclaim!.