The remaining three members of indie band Scattered Trees found themselves with booked studio time and no band. Or at least, a diminished one. Two members of the five had split and Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci, and Ryne Estwing had to decide what to do when they got in the studio with Broken Social Scene producer Dave Newfeld.
As bleak as it may sound– a skeleton crew of a once lauded band trying to pull something together in three weeks– what surfaced is yet another reason why we’re hardwired to chase second chances. ON AN ON’s debut album Give In represents the all important clean slate, the opportunity to destroy and rebuild something better.
For one, chief songwriter Nate Eiesland moved in a new direction. In interviews he’s talked about how Scattered Trees’ 2011 album Sympathy centered greatly on dealing with the death of his father. Returning to those songs every night on tour proved challenging. And indeed, Sympathy is a fairly mournful-sounding album. Give In feels like casting off the gloom. From the airy synths on “Ghosts” to the bursting drums on “The Hunter”, there’s a bounding energy backed by electro beats on Give In that’s really difficult to leave alone.
Even on more mellow moments, like “All the Horses”, ON AN ON creates intriguing, ethereal swatches of sounds, mixing retro-sounding harmonies, shimmering synth, and buzzy guitar. “American Dream” is another solid representation of the times when Give In embraces a light dream pop vibe. The song builds from Eiesland’s gauzy vocals atop guitar, drums, and the periodic sleighbell chime.
Through all that, the most striking part might just be how fully formed the album’s sound and feel are despite the quick run up; ON AN ON struck a vein. Perhaps there’s some shade of truth for them in a lyric Eiesland sings in “Panic”: “Maybe something good could come along, maybe something good could save us all.”
Essential Tracks: “Ghosts”, “American Dream”