That 'Figure' exists at all is a minor miracle. In 2017, having found himself in serious debt due to constant touring and facing the realisation of a broken relationship, Evan Weiss also said farewell to long-time Into It. Over It collaborator Josh Sparks and split with has manager following allegations of misconduct, in which his actions came under scrutiny. It was, it's fair to say, far from a banner year…
But these three years away have served as an opportunity for Weiss to examine his behaviours and chart a different path forward. In short, while the world around him burned, Weiss turned the lens inward and asked: 'why did this happen, and what role did my actions play?'
'Figure' offers up no easy answers, nor does it serve as a triumphant return for the Chicago-based musician. Instead, it's a sombre reflection on some heavy and bruising experiences. Weiss has commented that 'Figure' is the first Into It. Over It breakup record, but, the themes run much deeper, divorcing Weiss from much of what has gone before. It's not the mythical phoenix rising from the flames, but more the slowly dying embers that need to be extinguished before new growth can take place.
As such, much of Weiss' ire is directed at himself; the pointed confessional of 'They Built Our Bench Again In Palmer Square' is a literal breakup song, while 'Brushstrokes' is haunted by the spectre that we're all just rough drafts of our best selves. This mood continues on 'Perfect Penmanship' and 'Breathing Patterns', both of which ruminate on ideas of blame, accountability and responsibility.
Even musically 'Figure' is muted – respectful even. It might be a stretch to call it resigned, but a melancholy fog constantly swirls, only to be punctured sporadically by the bright tones and clarity of indie-pop cuts 'Living Up To Let You Down' and 'We Prefer Indoors'.
For all this, 'Figure' is neither maudlin nor a self-indulgent plea for pity. Instead, it walks a fine line between a hope for a better for future – or at least the idea that we have the power to positively shape our destiny – and a realisation that actions have consequences. It's a salutary lesson with few crumbs of comfort, but makes for a weighty, nuanced and deeply considered return.