On their major-label debut, alt-country buzzmakers the Avett Brothers check in with a Grammy-winning producer (Rick Rubin), a newfound sense of scope, and a sweeping song cycle about broken hearts, wrecked truths, and busted dreams. Through a series of indie albums released over the past decade, the North Carolina trio explored the outer fringes of Americana with such genre tools as banjos, fiddles, and some serious twang. I and Love and You stocks up on tunes and purpose.
The piano-ballad title cut sets the tone: all optimism until melancholy sets in. From there, the record weaves in and out of tales about folks getting on with their lives in their own little perfect spaces. It all ends with a song called “Incomplete and Insecure.” In between, brothers Scott and Seth Avett battle their neuroses with huge, gorgeous songs that at times recall Wilco’s Being There — another album that was too big for alt-country confinement. And “Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise” is as close to a mission statement you’ll hear from the Avett Brothers. No explanation necessary. — Michael Gallucci