The Avett Brothers

Closer Than Together

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Never let it be said that the Avett Brothers aren't afraid to tangle with the mess of the modern world. Closer Than Together positively teems with the troubles of 2019, finding Seth and Scott Avett tackling the big issues: #MeToo, gun violence, political polarization, the existential question of what it means to be an American. Heady stuff, and the Avett Brothers treat it with po-faced sincerity, singing with plaintive earnestness and not above adding an overdubbed recitation to a sweetly breezy pop tune. While the band sometimes flirts with modern sounds -- witness the overheated neo-new wave beats fueling "High Steppin'" -- they usually default to an affectless folk-rock that shows a considerable debt to Bob Dylan. Where Dylan chose to leave questions hanging in the air, the Avett Brothers are eager to explain every situation and offer possible solutions. Such eagerness can be ingratiating, but most often, it's corny: they're so convinced in their righteousness that they never stop to consider they could be headed in the wrong direction.

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