At Face Value – Ivy & Echo [EP]

5 out of 10

Tomorrow marks the release of Baltimore born At Face Value‘s new EP, Ivy & Echo. This follows their 2016 debut EP release Thick As Thieves.

First track Know It All follows the standard pop punk formula of overdrive guitars, crooning vocals, double speed drums and a bass line that follows the root notes of the guitar chords. It’s a tried and tested formula, and for fans of other similar bands such as All Time Low and We The Kings, it might be enjoyable. For someone looking for a little more depth and expansion of their usual music taste, this is perhaps not the track to introduce that.

Lead single Cinderella is much the same, the drums are hammering away under a decent guitar riff, but the rhythm guitar overpowers the riff too much, and the lower vocals are lost in the mix of the song. The chorus is upbeat and cheerful, however a lot of the vocal harmonies are drowed out by too much going on.

The EP starts to pick up at 24, Still Not Liked. The theme of the song is something a lot of young adults will relate to, particularly if they are pop punk fans. It’s one of the strongest songs on the EP, each instrument has its own place and musically the track sounds different to the previous two.

The listener can expect a change at Overcast (Acoustic), however is immediately confused when the main guitar line is performed by a clean electric guitar. There is an acoustic line too, and together they sound nice. The vocal harmonies sound great and fit the song really well. There is a random line at the end of the second verse where there is a lot of reverb applied to the vocals to make it sound like it’s sung in a church, but it’s not clear why. The overall song is the best on Ivy & Echo, however there are parts of it which aren’t as strong. It’s also not clear why this is the only ‘acoustic’ track, given that the assumed full band original isn’t on any of the group’s previous releases.

The best full band song on this EP is LOTR. The introduction is cheerful and there is a clear lead guitar line and a clear rhythm guitar part. The drums are also less busy and have a better effect on the overall sound. LOTR is followed by another strong track, Return The Slab, which is the final track on the EP. The drums rely too much on the cymbals in the first half of the song, but the vocals are balanced out better and stand out from the guitars much more. The soft harmonies really bring out the best qualities in the vocalist’s voice. There is also a nice piano melody in the outtro, an instrument which hasn’t been obviously used in any of the other tracks.

In trying to do too much, At Face Value have lost a lot of the sense of the music in Ivy & Echo. They are each talented musicians, however they don’t seem to be working together fully to really create something special. The latter half of the EP is much more carefully written, performed and produced than the first two tracks, which are disappointing enough to put new potential fans off from listening to the rest of Ivy & Echo.

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