Album Review: The Early November – Twenty – mxdwn.com

January 4th, 2023 – 8:00 AM
Emo-simplicity retained
The Early November recently released Twenty, their aptly name 20th-anniversary album, summoning a vast range of emotions from the last two decades of their career. Included are a plethora of B-side tracks, and music aficionados will attest to B-sides being just as pivotal as their mainstream counterparts (think Nirvana and “Sliver”). As emo rolls out with the tide, making way for new trends in music- some with staying power, and some without- fans of the pensive genre find themselves dusting off CDs from the early 2000s, wishing someone would dare to delve into a time and place when music still meant something and distorted guitars could coexist with gentler vocals. And The Early November does just that. 
Listeners in search of a band that holds true to its roots will identify with The Early November, and fans looking for a band that refuses to sell out will appreciate what these Jersey natives represent. It often feels like refusal to tune into mainstream radio sets listeners behind the curve, and with social media “likes” replacing the need for record label scouts, the return to music that matters often feels fruitless, the days of Frightwig replaced with generic pop. But The Early November refuses to let their sound fade into the grey and has given listeners an album just as fresh and innovative as the day they released The Room’s Too Cold in 2003. 
Although The Early November’s been diligent with producing thought-provoking tracks for fans to look forward to, “The Sand” and its introspective lyrics push it to the forefront of Twenty, serving as the album’s unofficial anthem. Lyrics such as “It never stopped me before/We’ll never hide again/I’m standing right at the door/I’m gonna fight my way back/It never stopped me before/So watch me rise again” feel like a nod to a band that refuses to create music solely for the sake of selling records. Is Twenty a declaration of The Early November rising from the corporate ashes like some mythological phoenix, refusing to give way to commercialized music? With a sound reminiscent of its 2003 inaugural album, it certainly seems that way. 
“My Own Dialogue” sings to the wanderers in search of lyrics that mirror their own life experiences, and, although The Early November isn’t reinventing the wheel musically, there’s no need to. Those in search of poignant lyrics complete with melodies written in minor keys perfect for brooding will find that Twenty provides a post-emo generation the opportunity to reminisce about Jersey-shore days gone by when rock still retained a simplistic elegance. Because sometimes music is just that- music. It doesn’t have to ebb and flow in an attempt to keep up with the latest trends or compete with social media challenges. It exists for the sheer fact that it entertains, evokes emotions and stirs listeners from their mainstream reverie. Hat’s off to The Early November for never losing sight of that. 
Kelly Catlin
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