‘Figure’, the fourth Into It. Over It. record, finds Evan Weiss reflecting on his past decisions and learning all kinds of important life lessons as he allows himself to grow into a stronger person: ‘It’s about trying to make peace with poor decisions that I’ve made and how I can try to reconcile as much as I can, and what I can’t reconcile, how I’m going to cope with that moving forward, and what I can do to be better to the people around me’. The album came to fruition following what turned out to be a therapeutic break in Nashville in 2017.
The opener ‘They Built Our Bench Again in Palmer Square’ is a candid and layered break-up song with Evan warning ‘This is the night where our ending starts, this is the evening where I break your heart’. As the drums take it into dream pop territory, Evan looks at where both parties found solace towards the end (‘Best decision to close the door, you have your parents and I have the tour’) and laments some of those keepsakes that disappear when the spark goes out (‘Our picture’s missing from the barren shelf’) before repeats of ‘carry on’ points towards the future. Recent single ‘Living Up to Let You Down’ follows before ‘Hollow Halos’ – complete with faltering Kinsella-esque guitar work – takes the album into the traditional twinkly II.OI. sound with talk of ‘new solutions’.
With a gorgeous piano backing and sobering, seld-depreciating tone, ‘Perfect Penmanship’ finds Evan recalling memories of old photographs while the bittersweet tone and tempo of ‘Courtesy Greetings’ reminded us of the II.OI. classic ‘Upstate Blues’: ‘We slowly, slowly close the door falling apart but insisting that ‘I owe you so much more”; ‘Sharing courtesy greetings confirming we’re nice but not kind’. ‘Breathing Patterns’ has a more minimalist open while ‘A Left Turn at Best Intentions’ gives one of the most direct insights into Evan’s desire – and need – to change his ways. ‘Brushstrokes’ is the perfect metaphor about how when some things look perfect from a distance, when you get up close you can start to see the cracks – and how a ‘new coat’ can’t cover them up: ‘Two creatures of comfort and we’d be lying if we thought things would look alright’.
The mathy yet accessible riffs and wonky bass line of ‘We Prefer Indoors’ recall Minus the Bear, while ‘Dressing Down/Addressing You’ pushes the record into more sonic and experimental tones. This continues through the penultimate (and fantastically named) ‘A Lyric in My Head I Haven’t Thought Of Yet’; this art pop anthem reminded us of Talking Heads with its bouncy rhythm section and mantra that ‘perfection is a dying art’. The closer ‘A Light in the Trees’ delves into a classic ’60s or ’70s sound with George Harrison-style guitars before more ambient leanings surround Evan’s heartfelt observations: ‘We split the difference and the loser had to pay for the drinks. We took the long way through an arbor just to hear what she thinks. We put our trust in her night, we were the light in the trees and I slept alone inside my car but I smiled for weeks’.
Full of powerful observations and poignant confessions, ‘Figure’ is a compelling listen about learning from your past to make a positive impact in the future.