Just in time for Summer
To Each His Own is the first studio album release by E.B. The Younger, the solo project of Midlake frontman Eric Pulido. The album showcases Pulido’s indie and folk roots, often toeing the line of country rock in the process. At face value, these songs are comfort food: familiar, easily consumed and bearing a distinctly Southern influence. In this way, To Each His Own is the perfect summer album. But beneath the surface there are intricate musical layers that accentuate the simpler sections of the album, creating a balanced and dynamic listening experience.
The record opens with the chill, ambient intro of “Used To Be,” which settles nicely into a comfortable indie rock groove. The lead guitar lines have shades of early Wilco, and the song has a relaxing, laid back feel. The atmospheric melodies and lyrics–“It ain’t like it used to be,” sings Pulido during the chorus–give the song a nostalgic punch.
The song carries this laid back vibe into the next track, “When The Time Comes.” It’s carried by a cheery acoustic guitar progression and piano melody alongside Pulido’s soothing vocals, perfectly straddling the line between modern folk and country rock. This song affirms that this album is ideal “sit on the back porch while sipping a beer as the sun goes down on a warm summer evening” music. It’s a simple, easy-going tune, but it throws the listener a curveball with a weird, syncopated outro.
“CLP” retains much of what the first two songs bring, but the rhythm switches to a classical guitar, which is a subtle but noticeable change. Compared to its predecessors, this song is a bit heavy-handed by being a little overly cheery and monotonous. A bridge built around minor chords would have served this song well.
“Down and Out” starts with a beautiful finger-picked progression mirrored by a piano melody, making for one of the most appealing and memorable instrumental sections of the album. The song settles back into the tonality of the album’s first two tracks, but with a slightly darker sound. Pulido’s somber lyrics match the beautifully wistful instrumentation: “I thought we had it all / Ain’t that wrong / Standing 10 foot tall / Never felt so small.”
“Don’t Forget Me” and “Out of the Woods” prove that there is more to To Each His Own than easy-going folk-rock tunes. The former uses oddball chords and multiple rhythmic changes, while the latter plays around with dynamic shifts. After cutting the tempo and kicking on the overdrive midway through the song, it builds to a crescendo and subsequently strips it back to basics. The song then builds back up again around a bluesy, almost Gospel sounding refrain of Pulido’s “Out of the Woods” chant.
In the entire album, “Monterey” is one of the best tracks. A beautiful yet simple tune with a happy, uplifting feel, it effectively captures the essence of Monterey. Although the album has great percussion throughout, this song has the best drum beat on the record. It’s centered around the floor tom and bass drum, making it stand out from some of the album’s more conventional beats.
Despite the occasional somber lyricism, To Each His Own never strays too far from its resoundingly positive message. “Time heals the wound that falls upon a man,” sings Pulido in “Hope Arrives.” Later he goes on to sing, “I just want to be who we are / Filled with love.”
The album’s closing track is its namesake. It’s a song of redemption that leaves the listener on an uplifting note. Pulido sings in the chorus that “The man, he must atone / For all that’s been to each his own.”
To Each His Own makes for a great summer listen, but perceptive listeners will find that there is much more than that here, both musically and lyrically. Still, the album is defined by its relaxing, laid-back attitude. Its title is fitting as if Pulido is telling listeners that these songs may be for you or they may not, but it’s alright either way. To each his own.