End Measured Mile gained acclaim faster than most releases get heard, ensuring Make Do And Mend would have at least one classic under its belt right out of the gate. While some bands take a plethora of releases to hit their stride, Make Do And Mend did it with their debut; solidifying themselves as not only a band of importance within the modern punk scene, but one of quality. Possessing an aesthetic not too far removed from the blueprint Hot Water Music has revised and improved upon since their inception, it’s fitting that Everything You Ever Loved continues this progression of minor tweaks. End Measured Mile is too new to cultivate nostalgia, but I can’t help but feel that same slowly growing affection for Everything You Ever Loved. It’s a warm and welcome reminder that Make Do And Mend are still a force to be reckoned with.
“Blur” opens the album well, lyrically it fits because it name checks the album’s title, but beyond that it features some meditative and evocative words that stand on their own (I’ve been waiting for the words to clear my throat, and I’ve been waiting for my fingertips to fret forgotten notes). The punk scene often likes to use the phrase ‘mid-tempo’ with a hint of derision, but “Blur” succeeds despite its slower pace.
It’s in my humble opinion that Make Do And Mend have raised the bar for what punk rock guitar playing can be. Some punk bands are content to relegate the instrument for solos and solos only, but the leads here are vibrant and purposeful. “Disassemble” is rather exemplative of this, featuring multiple recurring motifs that are equally as memorable as the chorus, yet display a sense of subtlety so as to never overwhelm the song.
“St. Anne” provides a change a pace, a slow number packed to the brim with painfully emotional imagery. “We’re all living just to find the latest loss, so cut your anchor loose and swim your way across. And when the day gives way to dusk and the circle closes round, fold your hands across my heart and hold me down.” The lyrics bring to mind a certain tendency in humans to pursue and romanticize pain, but it’s the abstract wording as well as the consistent naval imagery that make it so poignant.
Make Do And Mend have always been a band that’s into looking inward. With that sense of internal conflict being such a powerful source of momentum, it seems fitting that the greatest failures on Everything You Ever Loved would be present on one of its best songs. “Lucky” features some of the band’s best instrumentation to date, but it’s chorus is found lacking when viewed within the context of everything around it. Not to say it’s bad, merely serviceable. But with the rest of the song being so good, a serviceable chorus is something to take notice of.
“Desert Lily” is undoubtedly one of the best songs in this collection, a slow song with a beautiful arrangement. It’s a fine song by itself, but it was the intense bridge that piqued my ears. When the instruments begin a climbing crescendo and singer James Carroll belts “You’re the home that I saw through the woods from the side of the highway,” it quickly moves from ‘fine song’ to classic.
Everything You Ever Loved is a beautiful, rousing record that doesn’t sacrifice meaning for music. A minor misstep aside, Make Do And Mend’s sophomore effort is every bit as special as End Measured Mile. For every collection of stirring words, there’s a collection of fluid notes. The production may be cleaner, but make no mistake, nothing has been sacrificed.