Ten years ago saw the release of one of the most influential albums I’ve ever known – The Early November’s The Room Is Too Cold. In an era of my life when Blink 182 and early Saves the Day ruled my CD players, The Early November put out a record unlike anything I’d listened to up to that point, and which hasn’t been replicated for me since. It was sincerely the first album that gave me tears as it ended and reverberates with me even now thinking about it.
The Room Is Too Cold is unlike most of the albums on the scene within the last decade and stands unique even amongst TEN’s own discography. It’s a raw bare-boned creep that plays off of genuine emotion to tell a story of heartbreak and inner turmoil. There is no autotune and less melody and pop of the later albums The Early November would release. These are songs that include the crack and squeak of a young Ace Enders’ voice and a righteous disappointment in love.
Make no mistake, this is a miserable and depressing series of songs muddied in flat tones, raunch melody and the signature pop punk of the early 2000’s. This is an album recorded prior to Ace Enders writing the power pop for The Early November’s sophomore album or his solo work in Ace Enders and a Million Different People. It’s just a jagged experiment in emo with a smooth mix of soft acoustic ballads, slow rock and a peppering of Drive-Thru era punk. Almost every song bleeds into or sets up the next one, flowing together into one conscious thought of depravity and flailing hope. But ten years on, this is the album that started the careers of a band that has outlasted many that grew up with them. The Room Is Too Cold may just be one of the most underrated masterpieces in songwriting that has ever been made.
This is the only album I can think of where every song reflects an emotion outright rather than just a pop song singing about them. Each song has a distinct sound uninhibited by production and touch ups that makes it a unique link in the chain of realizing that you’re falling out of love. “Ever So Sweet” starts off slowly with the admission of seeing a lie in someone else and wrapping yourself through that. “The Mountain Range In My Living Room” is a swaying jam about falling into depression and the strength in lies. Crowd favorite “Baby Blue” is one of the stand out singles from the record, as its punk edge beats at the rhythm of an angry heart. The flat chords emulate the panicking pulse of someone vindictive of a break up and justifying why it’s all over.
If there is anything to take away from the album though, it’s the almost title track, “Everything’s Too Cold…But You’re So Hot”. The song is a slow trod through repetitive defeat, realizing that the love you once knew is completely and utterly gone. The clank of the guitar against the vocals is a miserable, beautiful sound through foggy tragedy, and picks up momentum near the end when the electric guitars come alive in fury. It ultimately ends with Enders screaming, “You know I always forget” at the top of his lungs through crackling vocal chords and finally ends with such a tone of despair, it seems like someone physically punched him while recording. It’s a desperate plea of loathing and defeat so pure it helps the album’s theme stay relevant and fresh a decade later without losing the effort that originally made it.
While most ten year old albums have a tendency to feel dated, especially as the band grows and matures, The Room Is Too Cold remains painfully relevant. While I hope that the Early November are able to create their opus, it’s hard to tap into a vein so truthful and honest. Regardless, this is an album worthy of an anniversary, as there won’t be anything like it for a long time.
by Kyle Schultz