“Be Your Man” is a smart choice to start folk-pop group Ivan & Alyosha's first full-length album. It's incredibly charming and very lovely. It builds into a bigger, celebratory moment at the end with a clattering tambourine, catchy guitar hook and quiet “ahh"s without feeling overwrought. It's the sign that this will be emotionally charged folk-pop, but not the kind we've become accustomed to lately that packs so much grandiosity that it stops meaning anything.
That said, Ivan & Alyosha doesn't change things up much within the album. The differences, song-to-song, are in the details. Each has gentle but insistent rhythm guitar and drums to propel the song forward under pretty vocal harmonies.
It can get a little sleepy, but damn is it pretty. “Running For Cover” stays true to formula, but manages to sound lovely and just distinct enough. After “Be Your Man,” one of the other standout moments on the record is “Easy To Love,” a carry-over from the band's first EP, The Verse, The Chorus. It's a plainspoken love song that sounds like a relic of simpler times (even if love has never been simple). In fact, it's an ode to simple love: “When the sky turns black / And we know it will from time to time / We've been through that / And we came out on top because / You're really easy to love.”
The most exciting and interesting moment on the album is the last song, “Who Are You.” There's more intensity, with the driving rhythm coming from the low end and a heavier reliance on distorted electric guitar. The change of pace and tone is refreshing, and maybe it's a little out of Ivan & Alyosha's wheelhouse, but it'd be nice to hear more of this.