In theory, a project hatched by folk/alternative favorites Kevin Devine (Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band) and Andy Hull (Manchester Orchestra and Right Away, Great Captain) sounds like it would be perfect. Devine's penchant for making you stop and listen just through the conviction he puts into his music and Hull's more understated atmospheric style would seem to be a great complements to each other.
In reality, the album is a solid effort, but not quite spectacular. Devine and Hull's vocals complement each other well, and most songs feature vocals from both. There's a nice middle compromise found between a full band and acoustic style on this album, with Devine's usual guitar based writing filled out by a variety of shakers, tambourines, and more prevalent backing vocals. Although the songs are usually more of a middle ground between the singers' day jobs than anything new, where this album really shines is on the handful of songs that are a poppier Beach Boys meets Bright eyes style of folk. "Holding Down the Laughter" "Please Move," and "You Wouldn't Have to Ask" are great examples of this. They sound like something you could hear on the radio, which is something new for both artists.
My favorite track off of the album is the aforementioned "You Wouldn't Have To Ask." It's the best of the tracks that attempt to truly collaborate between the two songwriter's styles and add something new as well. The up tempo beat is reminiscent of Devine's "I Could Be With Anyone" from his most recent full length, Brother's Blood, but the lyrics are less brash than Devine's usual tongue in cheek spitfire style and lean towards Hull's more understated sullen commentary, with lines like "If I could fix you, you wouldn't have to ask" and "Later on when you bargain with the mirror and you ask "Is it really that bad?" Well if it wasn't, you wouldn't have to ask."
The album's one weakness seems to be a lack of editing. Some songs are a bit too indulgent. The slow drift of "How This All Ends," complete with an experimental sounding warble throughout comes off a little heavy handed. "I Begged you Everything" and "Mesa, AZ" seem more like demos from Manchester Orchestra and Devine's band than new efforts, and Texas sounds almost exactly like Lifted era Bright Eyes, but the detours aren't too distracting from the better songs on the album. Even where the pair does get sidetracked, the songs aren't bad, they just don't fit as well with the rest of the album. The album is a bit chaotic in flow, but this is nothing new to fans of either frontman.
In the end, the album offers something for everyone, both fans looking to find more of the same from their favorite frontmen and those looking to find something a little different, and overall this is more a strength than it is a weakness.
4.5 out of 5 by freelancer Dani Palmer