“Amidst a now seemingly endless sea of folk-pop artists sits Ivan and Alyosha, yet this quartet manages their genre’s trappings with skill and creativity…”
Ivan & Alyosha | All The Times We Had
Nowadays, it seems echoing stomps, group chants, and acoustic tonalities are all the rage. Riding the crest of the wave of Mumford and Sons’ success, many artists have rooted their sounds in folk-pop foundations. While this isn’t a bad thing per say, the approach has already become formulaic, and thusly it has begun to stagnate. Amidst a now seemingly endless sea of folk-pop artists sits Ivan and Alyosha; however, unlike many of their genre peers, this quartet manages their genre’s trappings with skill and creativity.
Formed in 2007, the folk-pop/indie rock outfit have released their first full length album, All the Times We Had. The result is a solid album that unfolds its themes and ideas through a natural progression. Throughout the album, there is a basic sense of identity; therefore, instead of getting a band obsessed with reinventing the wheel, we get one that rolls the wheel a bit differently. Upon early listenings, many subtleties may go unnoticed. Yet in returning to the album, there is more depth to be found.
All The Times We Had plays with largely popular themes. In understanding their sound, Ivan and Alyosha are able to fully embrace and blend their influences. As a result, the album bolsters 1960’s rock influences (check The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band) and bunkers them down with folky, singer-songwriter sensibilities. Additionally, the band masterfully utilizes their tracklist to progress themes along with each song.
Despite the strengths of musical identity, the heart and soul of the album lies with guitarist/vocalist, Tim Wilson. While dabbling in melancholy, Wilson never sinks songs. Instead, his emotive styling adds a sincerity, which allows him to balance between heavy tracks (“God or Man,” “On My Way”) and lighter subjects (“Be Your Man,” “Easy to Love”). Though Wilson’s voice works wonders, his lyrical musings are not revolutionary. Yes, he uses serviceable imagery and metaphor; however, some of it seems a little tried. Regardless, it’s far from condemning.
Aside from Wilson’s voice, additional instrumentation is ever present throughout the whole. On “Who Are You” it feels as if the whole band is on display as they interweave rhythmic complexities under the songs main structure. Stunning harmonies and rich, lush production ensures that most songs build into festival ready sing-alongs and while this is nothing new in the genre, the songwriting is strong enough to repel clichés.
Overall, Ivan and Alyosha’s All the Times We Had is a solid album. With their first full length, Ivan and Alyosha work within a genre only to refine it. The overall tone manages to both present their own voice and reference their collective influences; however, this should be expected from a band named after Dostoyevsky’s famous characters (The Brothers Karamazov). Though Ivan and Alyosha may be written off as the latest band to ride the indie/folk-pop train, this dynamic quartet predates the resurgence and have delivered a quality record.