Published Apr 01, 2020Newly emerging from northern Michigan, Charmer sound exactly like an emo band from the Midwest. The easiest comparison here is Tigers Jaw, not only because they sound alike, but because they happen to have an album called Charmer. But there's also Transit, You Blew It!, Adventures, Dowsing, Turnover… Basically, throw a dart at the roster of emo labels in the first half of the '10s, and you'll hit a band that sounds like Charmer.
Ivy is far more polished and professional than their unassuming 2018 debut, and the band quickly make their intentions clear, with uptempo yet decidedly uncheery tunes performed by a mild-mannered singer and a band that's tempering their wildest instincts in order to fit the mood. Listen to the sombre-yet-spirited "Doom," the wistful "Wolf Fang Fist" or the propulsive melancholy of standout "December," and it's more than enough to transport you to an autumn day under grey skies stretching across the rust belt, to small towns blanketed in snow in a forgotten part of the continent, listening to music that asks the same thing you're asking: How can I be happy?
Lead singer David Daignault is soft-spoken and thoroughly emotive, a fitting voice for someone speaking as an introspective, possibly depressed introvert. Thematically, Ivy is an exercise in the observance of change, a vow to live presently and to cling to what matters. It's about letting life speed along and finding the resolve to make your peace with the fact that time is flying by.
All of that is scored by the blustery pace of the songs and the intimacy of the melodies. They're full of noodly riffs that wind their way into your ear, catchy enough to keep any super fans out there occupied with their YouTube playthroughs, but not so snazzy that they steal attention from that all-important Midwestern mood. Particularly striking are "Wither" and "Chandelier," in which Charmer are plainly paying their respects to their forebears, American Football.
With the thematic thrust of Ivy being the emotional digestion of constant change, what's missing is that same feeling of forward motion, of progression, of a story being told with ups and downs and lessons learned. Charmer's music is missing the peaks and valleys that approximate and replicate that experience of personal growth. Simply put, Ivy is just too steady and consistent for its own ideas. This is a worthy step for a band that has Midwest emo down pat, but have yet to develop a resounding statement of their own. (No Sleep)