It feels a little weird to review an album by a band that, as of this posting, has broken up. Especially an album by a band that, judging from the 11 tracks included on this album — its only full album — was vital, hungry and full of possibilities. Old Etc, comprised of Elizabeth Taillon, Brandon Lamontagne, Mike Sajecki, and Dylan Palme, broke up a couple weeks ago, and singer Taillon is moving out west in a few weeks. I only got to see them live once, but that 2015 show made me look forward to a full release from them in a big way. It’s too bad that this is both their first and final one. They were really good.
After all, they are part of a new wave of bands from disparate parts of the country, that take one of the foundational sounds of the late 1990s to mid-2000s — anthemic, heartfelt, intelligent indie rock, the kind made by Saddle Creek Records artists — and update it for today. Most importantly, through the passionate vocals of Elizabeth Taillon, who has the kind of voice that can belt like a pop singer, but instead uses it as a vehicle through which she delivers raw, personal lyrics. Taillon, like fellow charismatic vocalist Frances Quinan of the band Hop Along, inverts the emo-dude stereotype with fierceness. Songs like lead single “False Dawn” or the powerful “Aziscahos” showcase the band’s knack for hits-you-in-the-feels songwriting, and the live dynamic Old Etc has spent the past few years cultivating. Big guitars, big drums, big vocals, big feelings.
“Forever” is not perfect. It’s at times a bit sloppily recorded, and could probably have benefited from a little more studio time. It is, however, a snapshot of a band that had a lot of power in its short existence, and, if given the chance, could have taken that raw power and further focused it. But, that’s OK. Bands break up all the time. Doesn’t make it any less sad when they do, but at least, in Old Etc’s case, they left us with a memento.