Indie pop outfit, Scattered Trees, made a name for themselves throughout the Midwest before parting ways in 2012. Chicago-Minneapolis based trio, ON AN ON, rose from the ashes of this past endeavor and with it came their debut LP, Give In.
Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci, and Ryne Estwing, who once created music together as Scattered Trees, came together organically to create music as ON AN ON. From the first track, I instantly enjoy Give In. “Ghosts” is a steady song ending with luscious instrumentation. It’s a perfect introduction to (or reminder of) Eiesland’s vocal stylings and the textural style that characterizes ON AN ON.
“Every Song” is airy and engaging. Regal cymbal crashes lead into instrumental interludes. It feels nonsensical to mention how the synth felt organic, but in this track, they really couple with the vocals and soar. Give In then seamlessly transitions into “American Dream”. Light electric guitar melodies keep the song moving forward, and lyrical repetition serves to drive the point home, be it genuine or otherwise.
“The Hunter” is the obvious star of Give In; right as the song began I knew it was my favorite. The track is lead with isolated, distorted voices. An explosion of drums and soaring guitar then kick it into motion. This track’s energy grabs you from the start, and the chorus, simply put, is massive. Check out the totally reckless, heavy metal video that accompanies “The Hunter” below:
After a strong start, the album begins to lose steam towards the middle. Each of the beginning tracks is so strong that I find “All The Horses”, among others, beginning to wane in energy. Perhaps on its own, this track would be more interesting, but after “The Hunter” absolutely builds me up, this song just lets me down.
Slightly uninspiring mid-section aside, ON AN ON wraps up their debut beautifully with the last three tracks: “Cops”, “Panic”, and “I Wanted to Say More”. The outfit creates a beautiful atmospheric landscape in the subdued song, “Cops”. Its lush instrumentation and melancholy vocals are vastly emotive. Enter “Panic” to pick up the mood; it is instantly upbeat, save for the lyrics. End track, “I Wanted to Say More”, is a serene 8-minute span of musical textures.
The album is pleasant, laden with good melodies and great moods. Largely utilizing soft percussion, layers of vocals, and easy-going bass lines, the appealing dream-like quality of Give In is perfectly suited for a listen when you can allow yourself to be introspective; this album is like taking a step back to breathe. Though ON AN ON’s debut doesn’t seem to be a notable departure from their previous project, it is a wonderful, atmospheric album that builds the foundation for more great music to come.