I first heard The Avett Brothers on a mix CD that a friend and I were listening to in the car. Talk on Indolence came on, and we both looked at each other in amazement. I begged him to find out from the friend who made the mix who these guys were and if they had any more music.
The Avett Brothers have come a long way since then. They have steadily become better musicians and singers, and they have reached a certain level of mainstream fame (cf. their appearance on Letterman.) I And Love And You represents both a pinnacle of achievement for the North Carolina trio and an indication that they are not quite finished sharing their music with the world.
One thing that is immediately noticeable is a focus on richer songs filled with more and varied instruments than before. The piano is featured fairly heavily. The production of this album is excellent; each song feels full and finished, which is not something that one usually thought of when listening to previous efforts. One other thing to note is the prominence of drums in most of the songs: this is somewhat unusual for a band that does not have a permanent drummer. The trio take turns drumming when they play live, and it works very well.
I And Love And You is a great opening track, full of dynamic and great piano playing. The track perfectly encompasses the whirlwind rise that the band has experienced over the past year or so. The Perfect Space is another lush piano track, with a great transition to a pop-piano-rock feel in the second half of the song.
A track that showcases the drums that I mentioned above is the aptly-named Kick Drum Heart. Very catchy, very poppy, and very good.
One of my favorite tracks on the album is Slight Figure Of Speech. It evokes the jangley pop of the sixties while still managing to sound fresh. I was lucky enough to hear a live version of this track in Austin last October, and it sounded great.