Paste (magazine) - "It's an incisive, passionate but calculated album of sonically adventurous choral pop....[It] displays every bit of the band's trademark positivity."
Audio Mixer: Eli Crews.
Recording information: Friendly Ghost; Ice Cream Party; Spooky Electric Co.
A band started by Tim Perry with the purpose of making uplifting music with sunny harmonies, Ages and Ages succeeded in doing just that on their 2011 debut. They managed to duplicate the tone on their sophomore outing, despite its being marked by darker, more philosophical lyrics motivated by personal loss. Ages and Ages face a similar challenge on Something to Ruin, an album set against a backdrop of corporatization, gentrification, and exploding real estate prices in their base of Portland. With membership (11 credited here) spread across the Pacific Northwest, it's a relatable topic for those in many other cities, big and small, at the time of its release. The gravity is even captured on cover art that shows elephants roaming the streets of a city in dystopian ruin. Can the music possibly be peppy, especially with titles like "Kick Me Out" and "I'm Moving" among the track list? While the lyrics aren't always optimistic, Ages and Ages' rustic indie pop does deliver on their mission, if it's a bit tempered by a somber reality. The opening track, "They Want More," brings this quality to its lively strummed guitar, tambourine and drums, and sweet group harmonies, all supporting a melody fit for a singalong. Still, that melody delivers the somewhat ominous "They want more than what you got left/And they want more than what you wanna give/And you can't fake the feelings you get/And you can't escape it anymore." The message is brighter on "So Hazy," a melodic rap and group chorale about muddled thoughts that features Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock. (The album was recorded in his studio in Portland.) If, on average, the album's enthusiasm is muted, it's still stacked with infectious melodies, warmth, and Perry's engaging songcraft. The trippier "As It Is" closes the album on a hopeful note: "You're gonna find your peace and anonymity." Though Something to Ruin may not be an escapist work, it does deliver feel-good tunes with substance, and that may prove to be even more of a comfort. ~ Marcy Donelson