Eisley – Currents
Record Label: Equal Vision Records
Release Date: May 28 2013
To start off this review, I think it’s worth mentioning that Texas indie-pop band Eisley is one of my all time favorite bands in the entire universe. While their name, which is a Star Wars reference, is what first caught my eye to the band, their brand of conceptual, breezy, light, majestic, and utterly beautiful of indie-pop and indie-rock eventually won me over. Sophomore record Combinations is the record that won me over, and actually, I first found out about them, thanks to Late Night with Conan O’Brien, because the band made their first television appearance before the record came out, and that’s what ultimately made me check this band out. I won’t forget it, because something about their sound really drew me in. By the time third record, and first for Equal Vision Records, The Valley came around, the band was becoming a much different one. Their brand of indie-pop became much more experimental, and much more atmospheric. Comprised of siblings Sherri DuPree-Bemis, Stacy King, Chauntelle DuPree-D’Agostino, and Weston DuPree, along with cousin Garron DuPree, it’s understandable why the band would be in a different place. Being very young when the band first began in 1997, they’ve all grown and matured over the years. In fact, prior to fourth record Currents being released, four of the five members became parents. Not to mention, how can we forget that ridiculous Kickstarter campaign? However, those are currents under the bridge now. Regardless, 2011’s The Valley was a good record, albeit it was rather different. It was a lot moodier, darker, atmospheric, and it wasn’t as quirky and cheery anymore. Currents takes that same sound, but defines it even further. The record is very dependent on lush instrumentation, harmonies from the sisters, and nautical / maritime lyrics that paint a couple of different themes on the record of time being like a current in the ocean, and that despite these currents, relationships with people are what can keep you grounded and keep you safe.
The former theme really shows up directly in the first track, which is the title track, of all songs. It’s rather odd when a band makes the title track the opening track, because the band is essentially laying every card they have on the table. In a way, I can’t really blame them, because this is the first record that they self-recorded and self-produced, all in their home studio, so without label obligations and requirements, they have nothing to lose at this point. And what better way to start off the record than by showing off your strengths? First track, “Currents” kind of shows what the band is all about – it’s moody, atmospheric, dark, but still beautiful and magical. It’s an interesting balance, but only Eisley can manage that. the song also has lyrics talking about the overall theme of the album, such as, “I would part the waters if you said so / I would shift the currents if I had to row.” Sung by Stacy King, these lyrics come across as though they are sung underwater, as how serene and magical it sounds. In fact, the sisters’ harmonies are one of the best parts of this record, and as I mentioned earlier, it’s one part of the record that really stands out. Their harmonies were always one of their strengths, and one of my favorite parts of this band were their vocals, because all three sisters contributed vocals, rather than just one. This record also really expands on the quieter and moodier side of the band; Combinations had a plethora of influences, ranging from alt country, indie-pop, and rock. The Valley, on the other hand, was much more straightforward and leaned towards experimental and atmospheric. This record continues that, but to a more dramatic degree.
While the band does remain rather moody, and atmospheric, this album also manages to be the longest record the band has ever written at 51 minutes, with ten out of twelve songs clocking in at four minutes or over. This record has the band toying with the idea of sprawling instrumentals, and painting a soundscape throughout the entire record. The instrumentation does become an important part on this record, not that it never has been. The DuPree sisters can let their voices rest for a minute, as they and the guys in the band get a chance to “jam out,” so to speak. The songs that do feature song instrumentals are some of the best, such as seventh track “Wicked Child (feat. Merriment).” The track features Merriment, which is a fellow Equal Vision band that features other DuPree siblings, but that song has a really cool and experimental instrumental towards the end, along with other tracks, such as second track “Blue Fish,” which has the band jamming out for the last minute or so. The fact that Eisley are letting down their musical hair, so to speak, really shows their chance to experiment, and see what works for them. These instrumentals really do work. Moving on, though, my favorite part of this record are the DuPree sisters’ harmonies. In fact, I love most of this record. There are a few songs that don’t really do much for me, personally. Considering the record clocks in at about 51 minutes, there are a lot of songs on this record. The first half of the record is the best, frankly. The first six tracks are beautiful, and wonderful in every single way. It flows quite nicely, pun intended. The first track is the title track, and it starts off the album nicely, as I mentioned earlier. The next five songs are hit after hit. Third track “Drink the Water” contains one of the most memorable hooks of the record, and fourth track “Save My Soul” has a beautiful vocal harmony during the latter half of the song, and if you listen closely, you can hear Max Bemis appearing in the track. Another thing worth mentioning is that fifth track “Millstone” is the first time where Chauntelle gets a song to herself, and she does brilliantly. The chorus of that song is absolutely infectious, and beautiful all at once.
The second half of the record is where things do get rather shaky, however; Eighth, ninth, and tenth tracks “Find Me Here,” “Wonder English,” and “Lost Enemies” kind of fall to the wayside for me, compared to the tracks that close the record, which are “When the Night Comes,” and “Shelter.” These two tracks are monsters, but not in a musical sense; these song are absolutely fantastic, and they’re essentially a one-two punch to close out the record. “When the Night Comes” is a nice little acoustic song that shows the sisters’ at their most vulnerable, and the lyrics of this track are rather haunting, but yet still wonderful. “Shelter” kind of brings up the same theme that another track, sixth track “Real World,” brings up, which is having someone to hold onto when times get tough. The song likens a person being someone’s “shelter” or safe house, so to speak. This song is another simple little track, but it’s absolutely beautiful. It closes out the album with a nice quiet track, which seems to sum up the entire theme of the record: although times may seem tough, and like the currents of the ocean, life may be full of ups and downs, there’s always someone there who can shelter you from the storm.