Record review: Evangelicals, ‘The Evening Descends’

This review by Robert Loerzel originally appeared in Signal to Noise magazine’s spring 2008 issue.

The Evening Descends

So Gone, the terrific 2006 debut album by Evangelicals, received little of the attention it deserved, perhaps because this oddball outfit from Norman, Oklahoma, did not fit easily into the any current indie-rock category. Evangelicals continue to defy genre boundaries on their second album, playing chords and melodies that might have worked as pop songs and then twisting them into distorted miniature epics of passionately felt emotion and supernatural imagery. The songs almost seem to be fighting their way through a haze of reverb, echoing feedback, twinkling keyboards, harp glissandos, snippets of dialogue and various unidentifiable sounds, but the tunes do make themselves heard. Josh Jones sings about monsters growing inside of him, waking up screaming, encountering skeleton men and going crazy right outside his mother’s door. When he alludes to more prosaic pop-tune topics like, say, romance, he delivers lines such as: “When someone loves you very much, you’re fucked.” More than one song includes a proclamation about the end of the world being near. The apocalyptic turmoil in the lyrics gives Jones license to sing with almost unbridled feeling, gliding his falsetto up and down the melodies in search of sometimes elusive notes. As a vocal performance, it’s fearless, even when the strange stories told by the lyrics seem to filling Jones (or his characters) with quivering fright. Jones and his fellow Evangelicals, Kyle Davis and Austin Stephens, bring their wonderfully hallucinatory trip to a hopeful-sounding climax on the keyboard-driven “Bloodstream.” Sure, the song talks about getting shot in the eyes by God himself, but its protagonist wakes up laughing — a feeling the listener may share as the last track fades.