Six years had passed since New Jersey’s The Early November released what, at the time, appeared to be their final album. Sprawling across three discs, The Mother, The Mechanic & The Path was a conceptual, grandiose and challenging record. Challenging for listeners but even more so, for the band that created it. Plagued with recording and creative struggles, it left the band feeling drained and frustrated. More so than anyone, it left songwriter and front-man, Ace Enders, feeling defeated. While proud of the record and response, he knew that it was not what he originally dreamed it would be. Less than seven months after it’s release, the band decided to call it day and announced their “indefinite hiatus” in March of 2007.
Just a couple months before they all took the stage again in 2011 at the sold-out Electric Factory in Philadelphia, an Early November reunion seemed to be about the most unlikely thing to would happen. Even before playing a second time, the old friends knew that they wanted to make a record together and be a band again.
Things had changed for the little underdog band from the farming town of Hammonton, NJ during all those years. They found themselves with new purpose, drive and knowledge. Having signed their first recording contract at the ripe, old ages of 17, 18 & 19, they knew what they did and did not want to do this time around. They found the perfect partner in Portland, OR label Rise Records and set out to record a new album in Ace Enders recently built, Living Room Recording studio with Enders at the helm.
In Currents is a record that could have only been made by this band, at this specific point in time. The Early November had to have the experiences they did in the past 10 years which are documented on this new album. The good and the bad, the ups and the downs. The tastes of success and the crushing disappointments. The band has grown up, lived life and seen both its beauty and dismay. An atmosphere and tension hovers over the entire record leaving one unsure whether they should smile or sigh. In Currents is an introspective and thought provoking record displaying a gamut of emotional territory. In the opening track, A Stain On The Carpet, Enders recollects a regretful evening and confronts the threat of losing someone to dementia. The alt-country tinged, The Smell Of This Place, reminds himself and his loved ones that those very ups and downs have been worth the ride and are responsible for where and who they are now. In the short but poignant Digital Age, Enders addresses an issue facing every musician; how to survive in a industry that seems to be abandoning its art.
Don’t call it a comeback because reunion records rarely sound as inspired as The Movielife’s first full-length in 14 years, Cities In Search Of A Heart. This is an album that shows how the group’s songwriters—vocalist Vinnie Caruana and guitarist Brandon Reilly—have grown since 2003’s celebrated full-length Forty Hour Train Back To Penn, and also contains some of their most energized songwriting to date. In other words, whether you’ve loved The Movielife since they were a scrappy Long Island hardcore band in the early 2000s or you’re a recent initiate, it’s difficult not to get caught up in kinetic frenzy that permeates every note of Cities In Search Of A Heart.
The story of this record officially began two years ago when, after spending years on their own projects—Caruana’s I Am The Avalanche and Reilly’s Nightmare Of You—the duo started playing shows together as The Movielife once again. “The two of us became close friends again and we both felt like we had learned so much about songwriting since the early 2000s that we should do another record,” Caruana recalls, speaking from his current home in Brooklyn. “We had a great reaction to the reunion shows in 2014 but felt like instead of keeping it on a nostalgic level we wanted to write a record together that people could get into.” Not wanting to taint the band’s legacy or recycle the past, the duo were faced with the monumental task of figuring out exactly who The Movielife are in 2017, which was no easy task.
Caruana and Reilly struggled with the writing until last year when they realized that they simply had to make a new record that included the punk spark that was so prevalent in all of their previous work. “I knew the tempos had to be up and we had to be energetic because that’s what our shows are like and that element is so important to who we are as a band,” Caruana explains. Eventually the duo ended up with fifteen songs that they ended up trimming down and perfecting until they ended up with the ten songs that made the final cut. “I have to admit that the task of making this record seemed slightly impossible in the beginning but I’m so happy that we pushed ourselves so hard because we ended up making a Movielife record that we’re freaking out about and can’t wait to share with the world,” he adds.
Caruana has good reason to be excited. From the driving, melodic rocker “Mercy Is Asleep At The Wheel” to the fuzzed-out pop perfection of “Laugh Ourselves To Death” and orchestrally-tinged acoustic ballad “Pour Two Glasses,” the album shows that The Movielife have crafted a collection of songs that’s as captivating as it is catchy.