Today Is Tonight
First Appeared in The Music Box, January 2007, Volume 14, #1
Written by John Metzger
In 2005, The Changes had the distinctive honor of being the only unsigned band to perform at the Lollapalooza festival’s debut in its new, fixed location of Chicago’s Grant Park. Between its afternoon performance before a hometown crowd and the September 2006 release of its full-length debut Today is Tonight, the quiet buzz that had been building around the outfit had grown into a full-scale roar within the indie rock scene. In crafting the effort, the group recycled several tracks (When I Wake, Such a Scene, The Machine, and Her, You and I) that previously had surfaced on a pair of its EPs, and ambitiously, it grafted them into a song cycle that at least created the illusion that Today Is Tonight is a grander, conceptualized endeavor. Beginning with When I Wake and concluding with When I Sleep, the album attempts to mirror the passage of a day, but at this point, The Changes’ aspirations are greater than its lyrical capabilities.
Nevertheless, Today Is Tonight is overflowing with immediately ingratiating melodies and genuinely pleasing arrangements that largely succeed in smashing the ’70s into the ’80s in a remarkably intoxicating fashion. On Sisters, for example, The Changes layers its ’70s soul vocalizations on top of the song’s programmed beats, while on Twilight, the band fuses its hand-clap-punctuated brand of sunshine-laden pop with a sparkling, disco-flavored groove. Elsewhere, hints of Wilco burst from the synth accompaniment that darts through the conclusion to When I Wake; On a String latches onto both The Psychedelic Furs and The Dream Academy; vague references to The Smiths and The Cure lurk inside House of Style; and its tight-knit harmonies owe a debt to The Autumn Defense.
Without a doubt, there are more ideas floating through Today Is Tonight than are necessary, and The Changes undeniably would have benefited from working with a producer who was less inclined to allow the group to follow its whims. However, with the help of engineer Chris Brinkley (who also worked on Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot), the ensemble polished the material on Today Is Tonight into a delightful blast of ear candy that will suffice until it can refine its approach.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box