After indie-rock outfit Scattered Trees disbanded in 2012, former members Nate Eiesland, Ryne Estwing and Alissa Ricci wasted no time lamenting the dissolution. The trio banded together to form ON AN ON, and began recording their debut album Give In just three weeks after the breakup – a process that proved to be both cathartic and constructive. For their sophomore album, the Minnesota-based gave themselves a little bit more time, beginning the writing process in 2013. The beautifully-titled And The Wave Has Two Sides pushes ON AN ON further into pop-kissed territory. While ON AN ON’S synth-driven indie-pop seems a far cry from their first musical incarnation, there exists a real familiarity about its overall undulating sonic landscape of perfectly timed crescendos and decrescendos.
Opener Behind The Gun makes for a hauntingly withdrawn introduction. It lingers at a whisper, remaining shadowy and lamenting until its final moments, as its sparse electronics launch into the bass-driven down tempo groove of Icon Love. The upbeat Alright Alright then offers the first opportunity to let loose with shimmering synth motifs, and an impeccably crafted hook. I Can’t Escape It and You Were So Scared make use of similarly infectious, big sing-along choruses, while Stay The Same and the moody but danceable It’s Not Over become album’s true anthemic moments. The retro atmosphere of It’s Not Over manifests even clearer in Wait For The Kill, whose new romanticism influence is potent.
From the LP’s course of raucous indie-pop ups, and sparser, down-tempo downs, the tempestuous single Drifting stands out. Slowly blossoming from its humble plucked guitar introduction, the track steadily builds over layers of ethereal synths, stagnant bass and delicate guitar, as its devastating expression of loss becomes almost overwhelming.
While lyrically And The Wave Has Two Sides is not always as elegant as it could be (perhaps the result of the high expectations established by the loveliness of its title), it charters a pleasant ebb and flow, taking full advantage of the group’s genuine knack for effective pop structures and their flawless production standards.