Olivia Gulino, Contributing Writer
Happy: That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think of the debut full-length album “All the Times We Had” that Ivan & Alyosha released last February. And no, I’m not suggesting that two characters from “The Brothers Karamozov” crossed over from fiction to reality in order to pick up guitars and serenade the masses.
Ivan & Alyosha is a four-man band based in Seattle that apparently wanted Russian literature to forever set the mood of any music it produced. Whether or not that is at the forefront of your mind while you’re listening depends upon you, but, what will more likely happen is that the tracks off of its new album will put a little spring in your step with a sound that mixes some scattered folk elements with a little light pop, sprinkled with some satisfying harmonies.
Although the overall feel of the album brings to mind a gentle breeze, a sunny day or some equally uplifting image, the lyrics cover a variety of serious topics like the fickleness of man’s planning in “God or Man” or the illuminating effects of charity in “Fathers Be Kind.” “Running for Cover” is easily my favorite track on the album, if only because I’m a sucker for a well-executed and perfectly-placed harmony, but “Who Are You” and “On My Way” follow close behind.
It’s an impressive debut effort with several catchy tracks, but what it lacks is that one spark, that one melody, that one poetic lyric that causes eyebrows to raise and the ‘repeat’ button to be pressed. It’s not shockingly original and it will probably not change the very face of the genre with its innovations, but it’s happy music, and that’s fine, too. That being said, I’m looking forward to how Ivan & Alyosha develops in its sophomore effort.