On Ages and Ages’ past two albums—2014’s Divisionary and 2016’s Something to Ruin—they’ve confronted hardships head-on. Regardless of the direction their versatility takes them, there’s an innately dark angle to the Portland band’s delivery. Their new album, Me You They We, delves even deeper into that despondent realm.
Beginning with the buoyant lead single, “Just My Luck,” there’s a duality to Me You They We. The single bounces along crisply enough, but its vaguely Elliott Smithian melodic stroke also makes it one of Ages and Ages’ most overtly downer ballads. “Isn’t it just my luck,” Tim Perry sings, “The more of me I give them/The less they give a fuck/I’ve had enough.”
Perry shares his curiosities and insights in near-whispers, giving the band’s whimsical tunes a subtlety that makes songs with murkier subject matter—like “It Isn’t That Eazy,” or cathartic standout track “How It Feels”—settle into gorgeous sonic real estate. The ubiquitous 24-hour news cycle creeps into “Needle and Thread,” a song so endearingly arranged, you almost can’t tell it’s a reminder to resist the urge to let day-drinking and lethargy dictate your disposition.
Me You They We steps away from the breezy choral-folk and optimism of the band’s previous releases, instead offering a snapshot of their obvious distaste for the evils of fascism, the horrors of climate change, and the confusion of being alive in a rapidly curdling society. Throughout the album, Ages and Ages utilize supple dynamics and densely layered arrangements to present a dissertation on being utterly forlorn in a divisive America. It’s that, but, y’know... really catchy, too.