You and Me and Everything
Northern Spy · April 30, 2021
With the release of You and Me and Everything, Alex Toth, or Tōth, leans into his deliberately awkward style. Overall, the album has a borderline playful sound, with fun twists on vocal range, quirky instrumentation, and down-to-earth lyrics. The most effective songs on the album are those where Tōth uses this peculiar style to convey more heartfelt sentiments. You and Me and Everything is unsuspecting and pleasant, with surprisingly touching moments sprinkled throughout.
Many of the songs on the album have a straightforward and unashamedly cringeworthy sound. In “Guitars Are Better Than Synthesizers for Writing Through Hard Times,” the very first lyric in the track declares, “I feel weird.” It is an unusual but honest beginning, and these simple lyrics help to make the song feel extremely realistic – some sadness is best described without the frills. Tōth runs with this self-aware sound when he adds cheesy synths and gives a stumbling nature to the vocals. Although these components sometimes detract from the sad undertones of the song, the ending of “Guitars Are Better Than Synthesizers for Writing Through Hard Times” sees the use of harmonies and an electric guitar part that pull everything together. In the same manner, “Daffadowndilly,” a collaboration with Flock of Dimes, utilizes absolutely pitiful lyrics. Tōth sings, “Thank you for making everything totally meaningless” and “Just do the worst you could do to me.” Strings and harmonies allow the song to come off as a tragic ballad, yet the gentle acoustic guitar and the pained main vocals ground “Daffadowndilly” in vulnerability. The lyrics might have been laughable without these stylistic choices, but when the awkward lines are coupled with such cognizant instrumentation, Tōth achieves a genuine and moving sound.
Aside from the more conspicuously sorrowful songs, there are also songs on the album that play with sweeter feelings. In the dreamy “Angie,” a collaboration with Angelica Bess, Tōth sings “Thank you for inhabiting my heart.” The production of the song is pleasantly muddy, which furthers the feeling that the song is a reverie of sorts. While “You and Me and Everything” has more clarity in its production, it has a similar dreamlike feel. Interestingly, this title track is really more of an interlude. At a brief one minute and eleven seconds, “You and Me and Everything” is again simplistic in its lyrics, but it manages to convey feelings of admiration, appreciation, and awe. Heavily layered vocals and a build-up of harmonies allow the song to bloom even within its short time span. In general, songs like “Angie” and “You and Me and Everything” give Tōth’s album a more delicate side.
The album also concludes with an exploration of this gentler realm. “Bloom” is a lush soundscape filled with synth pads, smooth percussion, and musing vocals. “The Driving” maintains this rich sound but also brings back Tōth’s blunt lyrics. “What the fuck am I supposed to do without someone like you?” he laments. This final song is a fitting representation of Tōth’s ability to blend the painful and the pitiful, or the fantastical and playful. You and Me and Everything ultimately comes together to be a perfectly deceiving album. Disguised in awkwardness are heartfelt themes that end up being more powerful when communicated in Tōth’s self-aware manner.