Are’s & Els is the folk rock eleven-track piece that is set to drop June 5 from Michael The Blind. Singer-songwriter Michael Levasseur formed the band with his wife, Rachael Renee, Nathaniel Leigh, and J. Elwood Johncox. The record is filled with folksy guitars and pining vocals that tell a story about the unpredictable fluctuations in life. “Another Circle Of Fifths,” the album opener, is a buoyant song. It is complemented by strings, but the vocal parts are sung a bit too high for the song to be entirely pleasant. During track three, “Can’t Stay,” you are clearly reminded of the era of grunge as all two minutes fly by.
Most of the songs are quite short, but at least they are to the point. On the song “Metaphor Life,” the vocalist carries on with a glass-half-empty outlook on every part of his life, illustrating the physical opposites of the good and the bad—which grows tiring two verses in. A dominating chorus of “la da da’s” makes “Sympathies” border on becoming a lullaby. At many points while listening to the album, it becomes difficult to decipher which song you’re hearing, almost as much as it is difficult to pay attention to exactly what you are hearing.
“Just Like A Song” is a dragged out attempt a love song during which the vocalist repeats the tone-deaf whine that is the chorus, overpowering any redeeming musical qualities the track might have had. Grunge-influenced riffs return on the latter portion of the record. Above-average guitar parts are one of the few appeasing aspects to Are’s & Els. At the very least, the group has succeeded in making a cohesive piece of work. On the closing track, “My Regards,” Levasseur does not whine for the first time since the record began playing. On the other hand, the song never climaxes and this reminds me that the album doesn’t either.