Folk-pop is all the rage these days. With Mumford and Sons and the Lumineers topping Billboard, they leave the door wide open for new acts to follow. Seattle has been turning out great folk-pop acts for years (well before it became trendy), and the debut full-length album from Ivan and Alyosha, All the Times We Had, is the latest breakout contender.
All the Times We Had is heavy on folk-pop trademarks without being derivative. The band eschews barn-buring numbers, instead focusing on soft, welcoming melodies. Vocal harmonies are rich yet understated; the rhythm section is rock-steady; and guitars are a deft mix of acoustic picking and electric slides. Over the course of the record, Ivan and Alyosha proves it can pull off a sugary sweet toe-tapper (“Be Your Man”) just as well as a song that seems ripped from a summer porch jam with their buddies (“Don’t Want to Die Anymore”).
The key hook for the band comes from Tim Wilson’s swoon-worthy singing. The timbre (and production) of Wilson’s vocals on All the Times We Had evokes a certain dusty Americana air; he charms with each note in a way that’s reminiscent of The Killers’ Brandon Flowers on Sam’s Town. Armed with lyrics that tend toward the universal rather than the personal—“an oasis in the desert/where the waters run clear/and the only way to see it/is to believe that it's there” ("The Fold")—Wilson fronts an uplifting band, more intent to climb mountains and persevere than linger over loneliness.
With its in-vogue sound and voice that will melt the hearts of the ladies (and more than a few fellows), All the Times We Had sets Ivan and Alyosha up for a big 2013.