When evening descends, for a while you hang on the cusp of day and night, when things lose their distinction, become blurry. Evangelicals’ music is this way; dark, hard to delineate, full of atmosphere but rapidly slipping into something else, something obscure.
Not that The Evening Descends is all gloom. The band sounds bright and tight at many moments, with pop flourishes and big hooks, even sparkling guitar solos. Then, at an odd moment, they take a sudden turn and are awash in paralytic white noise that convulses until keyboards swirl in from the left. These are not songs about depression, they’re songs about madness.
Evangelicals have a slippery sound, ranging from indie rock and futuristic psychedelia to 70’s prog. They are often compared to The Flaming Lips, the best known rock band from Evangelical’s home state of Oklahoma. I tried to dig the Flaming Lips, but to my ears they were a little boring. Evangelicals, on the other hand, are very plugged in. Though they sound very different from The Mars Volta, they’re similar in the respect that by updating psychedelic music (whatever that means) for the 00’s, they’re infusing it with post-punk energy.
Some tracks on The Evening Descends have an anthemic indie quality similar to Arcade Fire, while others are sonic explorations more akin to Sonic Youth. They owe at least as much to The Cure as they do to Modest Mouse. “Bloodstream” is a fantastic song, a sort of eerie, subtle, paranoid ballad. “Paperback Suicide” is accessible and compact, built like a radio single. “Stoned Again” and “Here in the Deadlights” are ethereal and druggy, but in a convincingly lucid way. The wintry “Snowflakes” is full of shimmering textures, floating along in a narcotic holiday haze.
There are a couple challenging things about Evangelicals’ music. Vocalist Josh Jones’ voice can get a little shrill and whiny in that familiar indie-band way. The group also has a tendency to wander around too long between songs. But a lot of those wanderings are at least passable ear-candy, and Jones’ impressions of a desperate man seem genuine.
Evangelicals are currently touring in support of The Evening Descends, which was released last year.
Evangelicals are playing the Hemlock Tavern on Polk St. in San Francisco, this Wednesday, November 4th.