Eisley - Combinations
Eisley is a fickle beast to tackle. I've always imagined Eisley as a sort of metaphoric economic variable. A business fluctuation, an unpredictable force that would come out of no where after dwelling in some pseudo-obscurity and alter their genre (metaphoric business cycle). I'm writing this review after finishing my Economics homework and so clearly the concepts are still on the mind. The point I'm trying to address is Eisley is fairly well-known but completely unappreciated. Thankfully, they recorded and released Combinations, their best effort yet.
I can honestly say, no I've never been the biggest fan of Eisley. I wasn't a habitual listener, merely random. Combinations was then released and their catalogue surfaced itself and then found itself plunged into constant rotation. But the real gem of that catalogue is Combinations. A few things make it so: 1. Whichever DuPree is singing, they have an amazing set of cords. 2. The music is superb. 3. The lyrics are vague, deep, and vague. I said it twice.
The album opens with "Many Funerals" where you are introduced to this morbid approach to singing and bells. You assume "Great, some atypical indie group." Insert distortion here and "Break break down!" where that DuPree girl is sounding like the most beautiful dying thing ever yet extremely pissed off. "Sean, what the fuck are you talking about?" I've got a handful of shrugs for you.
The song then carries on into "Invasion," the lead single. Probably a bad choice, but still a good song. The chorus features that DuPree girl at her most annoying point ever on the album because her vocals are just downright atrocious. "Taking Control" rolls up next and you find yourself irritated with bells. "I Could Be There For You" is this percussion/synth jam with that DuPree girl calling you and wanting to know "Where are you hiding?" "Ten Cent Blues" is a $20 jam that sounds like something I'd hear out of Sheryl Crow if she had talent and no drama.
I don't know what I'm saying anymore. Buy this album, that is all. Adjourned.
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on 2009-10-02 saellys Said:
Back in 2003, when Eisley released their first effort on Warner Brothers (the Laughing City EP), they had a lot of things going for them. Youth was one--youngest sister Stacy was all of fifteen when they opened for Coldplay in arenas around the U.S. Charm was another, and the argument could be made that they had charm because they were young.
In any case, Eisley's fantasy-world songs of bees drawing faces in pollen and carrying lightbulbs in pockets worked on the Laughing City EP. They continued to work on Room Noises, their full-length debut. Sherri and Stacy's timid but glorious voices carried the songs when the lyrics fell short, which happens a lot when teenagers write songs, old as their souls may be.
And then, somewhere between Room Noises and Combinations, something changed. Blame the label, blame a couple engagements and a marriage, blame too many tours with shitty pop-punk bands. No matter who you blame, the fact remains: Eisley no longer have much going for them. They "grew up" on Combinations and started writing songs about relationships, and it turns out they don't really have anything new to say, and they don't say it in a particularly interesting way. Producer Richard Gibbs tried to save the songs by throwing every instrument in his studio at them, but it's just not enough. When they abandoned the giant dragon and the snowflake village, something else got left behind. The only word I have for it is innocence.
There are remnants of Eisley's former glory on Combinations. "Many Funerals" and "Ten Cent Blues" are loosely about street urchins dealing with death and love, respectively, and both are fantastic. The title track is a sweet love song with convincing and relatively sophisticated lyrics. But there are enough low points on Combinations to make me wish Eisley had just released another EP, and to produce that horrible feeling I get when I start to think maybe a band I once loved isn't really the band I thought they were. The worst part is that I have no advice to offer Eisley, no direction they should go to restore their charm, and no idea how to fix what was broken on Combinations.