The Early November is taking the idea of the concept album and turning it upside down. Instead of having the music progress with the storyline, they have written two entirely different records that revolve around one idea. And to top that feat off, they also recorded a third disc that sums up the first two discs into a soundtrack of dialogue and music. Yes, the Early November has written the very album that will make or break their career. The Mother, The Mechanic, and The Path offers us a very unique storyline: we are introduced to a young man who clashes with his domineering father. He leaves his family with the girls he loves, setting out to make his own path in life, one that avoids the life of his parents. Upon having his own child, he promises to himself that he will not become like his father. But, as his life comes full circle, his son begins to revolt against him, and he finds himself slowly slipping into the mold of his father, the very destiny he tried so hard to break away from. TEN frontman Ace Enders was inspired to write this story after seeing movies such as Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, The Matrix, and The Truman Show. The plot is very intriguing, yes, but would the music measure up to the story?
The first disc, The Mechanic, shows off the grittier side of TEN, as this is the proclaimed “rock” disc of the album. The first track, “Money In His Hand,” begins with the sound of distorted guitars that go into a power rocker that is reminiscent of the Foo Fighters. Enders’ voice is smooth as it flows throughout the song and exclaiming the cynical realization that “It’s not the heart that makes the man/it’s the money in his hand.” “The Rest Of My Life” begins with jotting guitars that drive throughout as Enders’ sedated vocal melodies contrast with the anguished background shouts. The next song, “Decoration,” is my favorite track from this disc, as it showcases how far TEN has come since the For All Of This days. Joe Marro and Bill Lugg’s guitars swoop and duel as Enders’ voice soars through the anthemic chorus. “No Good At Saying Sorry (One More Chance)” slows down the disc a bit and flows in the vein of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under The Bridge.” “The One That You Hated” takes the disc down a menacing path, as the song balances the different moods very well. “Make A Decision” shows a heavier side of TEN that we rarely hear, and “The Car In 20” is fast paced track that leaves you breathless. The Mechanic takes you in many directions, and this is the most polished disc out of the three, as Enders has said that if TEN only released one record, this would have been the product. The Mechanic is not that much different that The Room’s Too Cold; it is just darker and matured, as it seems that TEN has finally found the rock and roll sound they have been striving for.
The Mother, however, takes the album down a peaceful road, as it is nothing like The Mechanic. It begins with the melancholy piano ballad, “My Lack Of Skill.” Right away, you will realize that this disc is going to showcase a different side of The Early November. “A Little More Time” is a calm rocker that seems to tear a page from Dashboard Confessional’s playbook. “Little Black Heart” is the first standout track on this disc, as it displays two different guitar melodies that are carried by Enders’ soothing vocals. Just his voice and the acoustic guitar, nothing else, and TEN always do this very well. “Hair” follows this up with its quirky guitar strums and offbeat drumming, and also features piano and trombone solos and a chorus that thrives. Folk influences pop their head in the track, “Driving South,” and “Scared To Lose” picks up the tempo as it rocks in a way that early 90’s bands use to. “The Truth Is” is another acoustic track that rises and dips throughout with Enders’ raw voice. Raw is very prevalent throughout The Mother, as TEN wanted to make this disc sound as pure and stripped down as possible, so it could be a reflection of Mother Earth. And it works, as The Mother is the best album The Early November has ever written, even if it is nothing like they have ever made before. The tracks flow freely and are very passionate, inviting you to embrace each and every track. Combining the sound of I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody’s Business with blues, folk, and acoustic, this is one disc that you will fall in love with immediately.
After the first two discs of this triple-decker, though, you are thrown one extreme curveball. The Path is a very creative and ambitious third disc, mixing dialogue between the young man and his psychiatrist with soft background music that incorporates everything from classical to pop to folk to country to punk. There is multiple dialogue Sessions throughout this disc that are broken up by short songs. During these Sessions, they feature a dialogue between the young man and his psychiatrist, and as the story goes along, you hear all the hatred that he has for his dad, but as he continues on, you’ll realize how similar the young man is to his father, and you discover the both men have the same problems. At this point, the voices of the psychiatrist and the young man blend into one, and you notice that there is no psychiatrist and that the young man has multiple personalities, that he judges everyone around him and never puts the blame on himself. It’s quite the twist and really puts across the point that Enders was trying to make; that we, as humans, need to look at ourselves and take accountability for our life instead of blaming everyone around us. It took many listens for me to finally understand the third disc. After the first few listens, I was ready to throw it out and never listen to it again, as it was a flow-killer. But, I gave it a few more chances, and eventually, I had an epiphany and finally truly appreciate what the Early November was doing here. Yes, this disc can be a bit too ambitious at times, but its intention was to sum up the first two discs and close out the story, which I think they did a fine job of.
The Early November have raised the bar for other bands in their genre, as they are head and shoulders above their peers. The Mother, The Mechanic, and The Path is by no means perfect, but it still quite the achievement and The Early November did a very admirable job of accomplishing their idea. This is not an album that’ll instantly catch your ear; rather you must give this time to fully get the gist of this triple-album. It is an up and down ride, not only in the story, but in the band as well, as we hear the full talents and potential of the band. Don’t except something epic or life changing, but expect a damn good album that thinks outside the box. This is not the same band singing about broken hearts and mountain ranges, instead this is band that has created an album that fans of many different genres can enjoy. The Mother, The Mechanic, and The Path is the display of a band that isn’t afraid of failure, critics, or the “norm.” Some might complain about the production of this triple-album, but that’s the beauty of The Early November; they are at their best when their sound is raw and unpolished. If this album were too polished, it would have taken so much away from the overall theme and sound. So, on July 11th, be prepared to hear an album that’ll take you a very unique and beautiful journey through the minds of The Early November.