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Iver-Citadel of Stars EP

iverBand Name: Iver
Album Name: Citadel of Stars EP
Best Element: Majestic, romantic songwriting
Genre: Indie-pop
Label Name: n/a
Band E-mail:

Iver is one of those bands that makes my eyes get wide, my jaw drop open, and my conversations stop. When I first heard “Citadel of Stars” on their purevolume site, I fell instantly in love. How could I not, with two talented pianists (who also happen to be talented vocalists as well) playing their hearts in a torrentially passionate love song?

Iver’s set-up may be unconventional, but once you listen to their EP, you will completely forget that it matters (which it doesn’t, anyway). This band is truly amazing. By having two complete pianos on stage at once (go to their site and look at the photos- they’re amazingly cool), a vocal amp with two inputs, and nothing else, they create one wall of sound- as if a person with four hands and two voices had written these amazing elegies.

But it’s not one guy with a messed-up anatomy- it’s Morgan Cornwell and Blake Powell. Cornwell’s vocals are astounding from the get-go- I’m usually not a fan of female vocals, but the passion and nearly perfect, seemingly effortless intonation that comes out of her mouth blends with the music in a heavenly manner. Powell’s vocals, a tad reminiscent of Something Corporate’s Andrew McMahon, are emotive, low and strong- the antidote to all these whiny pop-punk/emo/pop-rock singers that are popping up like zits on the face of modern music. Whether belting it out on the elegaic “Where Would I Go” or smoothly crooning on the melancholy “Cynical Me”, his voice rings true and is a perfect foil to Cornwell’s dusky alto.

Their piano playing is stellar- as complex as you would expect for a four-handed piece, yet keeping in mind that these are pop songs to be consumed by pop-lovers (no out-of-hand artsy weird stuff). With four hands and two brains writing the songs, there are many parts in these tunes, making the shortest (“Where Would I Go”) clock in at 4 minutes and 41 seconds. But while the songs are long, Powell and Cornwell limit repetition and allow even the most ADD of listeners to listen to Iver with little to no discomfort.

Another characteristic of the two-minded songwriting process is that the songs are diverse on this four-song EP. “Citadel of Stars” is an charging, passionate romantic romp that is easily the best song on this EP. The piano playing on this opening track is jaw-dropping, sucking the listener in for the rest of the EP. “Sun Down” is a long, slow-building ballad with some great vocal interactions, while “Where Would I Go” is a tender, quiet, emotional elegy. “Cynical Me” is a melancholy, introspective track that features some great two-piano interactions and the best lyrics on the EP.

While “Cynical Me” works well in the words department, the lyrics on the rest of the album could be a point of contention. This EP is a mini-story about a romance, and while they play with words quite effectively, they don’t play with them well enough that they can get away with making an entire EP about love. In some places it can come off as a little too sappy- but that’s the nature of the songs. I don’t find a problem with it, being a hopeless romantic myself, but there are some who will look down on this EP because of its preponderance of romantic language. Just warning you.

If you like love songs, piano, or beautiful indie-pop, Iver is the new rising star. I seriously expect them to put a small backing band behind them, write some more amazing songs, go on tour, and take over the indie-pop scene. There’s just too much talented encapsulated within Iver for them not to make it all the way to the top. Mark my words.

-Stephen Carradini