The End of the World rarely miss the mark on this record. You're Making It Come Alive is a thoughtful process from start to finish, judging by the fine "Crowded Rooms" that doesn't smack you over the head with power but slowly and surely invites you in. Think of an early R.E.M. or the National, and the song becomes much clearer. Nothing bursts through the surface on this track, it just brims to the top before simmering back down again. The guitar work of singer Stefan Marolachakis and his partner, guitarist Benjamin Smith, shines here. Just as infectious is the percussion-led rumble propelling "White Sands" along effortlessly, resembling a great track never considered by Sloan, Fountains of Wayne or Guided by Voices. Here the guitars break out but they are buried deep in the mix, resulting in an extremely well-crafted sound that is polished yet distorted. The first song, which doesn't quite leave a great taste in one's mouth, has to be the average "Last Cast" that sounds like a cross between the Cure and Crowded House. The band doesn't opt for one road but gets to the same above-average spot with each effort, as is the case with the melodic, melancholic and Americana-tinged "Sunrise at the Manse" that has Marolachakis sounding as if he recorded this vocal with the sun just rising out of the sea. Yet things take a noticeable upturn with the fabulous "Fangs and Fog" that again is riddled with tension but never has its balloon pricked. Add to that some jangle along the lines of the Jesus and Mary Chain, and this becomes an instant highlight of the album. The only time that seems to have the group reaching or stretching for something that isn't there is during "Spare Me" which has a melody reminiscent of R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" but doesn't quite gel. It might be a selection only Paul Westerberg could truly pull off. A similar number is "This Simple Mess," a song the group take its time with and barely goes over a whisper early in before taking on a glorious, guitar-driven life of its own with the seamless "Oh, Nashville."
AllMusic Review by Jason MacNeil