Best Element: Creativity
Genre: Indie Rock
Label: Paper Garden (www.papergardenrecords.com)
I’ve long said that my favorite bands are ones that have abandoned guitar as their main method of communicating and implemented more keys. Relient K, Coldplay, Mae, The Flaming Lips, and the Starlight Mints are just some of the many bands who have shifted or are shifting towards a more key-centric approach (although the Lips are shifting out of that stage). There are infinitely more sounds you can make with a keyboard than with a guitar, which is why keys-heavy music is just more interesting.
That’s part of the reason why I’m such a firm believer in Eagle*Seagull. Their indie-rock is that dark, swooping, melancholy indie-rock that is so trendy these days, but instead of being cliché and annoying, it’s heart-pumping and refreshing due to the emphasis on keys. The guitars are still there, very much so- but more often than not, the piano is carrying the melody on Eagle*Seagull’s debut.
Another reason I so eagerly prescribe to ES is that they have an ace up their sleeve which goes by the name “restraint”. Eagle*Seagull has seven members in their band, and yet their music never sounds cluttered. In fact, it’s the direct opposite of cluttered- everything seems to fit perfectly, whether it’s a secondary keys line or a banjo part or an extra guitar riff.
Another reason to love this album is that it’s got quality and quantity- clocking in at 55 minutes for 11 songs, these guys don’t skirt around the issue. They make every piece an epic, whether it’s a forlorn piano ballad (“Ballet or Art”, which has the added bonus of firework noises in the background), an indie-pop extravaganza (the mix-tape-ready “Your Beauty is a Knife I Turn On My Throat”), a song that’s a guitar tone away from being an alt-country bit (“Hello, Never”), or just a moody indie-rock song (“It’s So Sexy”).
A lot of what keeps the sound cohesive is the unique vocals- not the greatest in the world, but certainly unique. The tone is almost overdramatic- not whiny, but warbly and pointed, with a bizarrely interesting falsetto. It fits well over the moodiness, and it makes their music instantaneously recognizable. Their highlight comes in the mournful “Holy”, where the voice seems so fragile it could break while crooning “Everyone is holy/everyone’s an angel…”.
Altogether, this is one heck of an indie-rock album. It’s moody, it’s dark, it’s got variation, it’s got catchy melodies, it’s got what the kids want. And it’s got it with creativity. No wonder one of my friends bought it off Emusic and told me to listen to it…