Review Summary: A sparkling, polished exterior hides the fact there is not much else under the hood
Texan indie pop outfit Eisley have made admirably downplayed waves one the scene since releasing their first E.P. in the year 2000. The stylistic path of the group is so well-established that it’s on the verge of being tarmacked and declared a motorway; because of this, it’s refreshing when a band display enough initiative to stay true to the genre’s roots and yet still skirt around the outside in nervy flourishes of innovation. Eisley’s fourth full-length release is a docile slice of indie music and mainstream sensibilities, laden with some disarmingly emotional themes and enchanting musicianship. It is, however, a little difficult to reconcile the flashes of vanguard style with some of the more bewilderingly dull choices that have been given pride of place in many of the compositions. Sparklingly simple songwriting with an impressive depth disguises the quietly uncomplicated songwriting, but also struggles to sustain the selection of all-too similar tracks; the admittedly endearing quality of the music becomes wrapped up in its own emotional weight, and contests to showcase the diversity of the first half of the release.
Similar to such acts as The Corrs, the main meat of the songwriting lies, paradoxically, in its own simplicity. The lyrics are simple and could even be described as a little hackneyed, but vocalists Stacy and Sherri DuPree lay down silky-smooth voice recordings with more than a vague air of command laced into a style that’s wispy but heartfelt. In this way, the musicality very much mirrors the richness of the vocals, despite both elements being relatively basic in relation to their execution and the way they are juxtaposed. The release opens with the title track, beginning with some curiously atonal but intriguing musicality set against some amiably peaceful lyricism. The slightly shrill, but always relaxing, vocals work in a vicarious tandem with the strings and the soft padding of the percussion, really expressing the core of emotion that saturates Currents
and epitomizing them with a dramatic flair. The same can be said for track 'Drink The Water', which features a beautiful piano motif that echoes in the background like an angelic mantra, as the lyrical structure imitates this. 'Save My Soul' traverses the album’s implemented style somewhat, with a distinctly heavier break in the song where the bass becomes more pronounced and the drumbeat become more than a quaint brush; the effect loiters a little too long and becomes almost meaningless when surrounded by far more melancholic songwriting, but it’s an enjoyable aside nonetheless.
Much like a strand of wool, an extended period of time fiddling with an end will inevitably result in the unraveling of the fine threads that combine to make the thicker tress. Similarly, Currents
is afflicted by an issue of continuation; it lapses into a dull sense of self-assurance as the album progresses. The lyrical emotion is still layered liberally, but the charm of the music begins to wear a little thin, feeling bereft of the intelligent slights that encompass the first half of the release. The music is never poor on a critical level but rather underwhelming, seeming content to tread water in a small plunge pool; it may have some depth, but has virtually no room for expansion. In spite of everything, the vocals really do tie the package together, being all at once haunting and soothing, if suffering from a touch of unoriginal lyricism. This can be observed on such tracks as 'Millstone' and 'Real World', the former of which features gorgeously subtle variety implemented into the vocal structure of the song, combining a sweet-sounding melody and a higher-pitched vocalization of the tune, both of which function excellently. Some later tracks, such as 'Find Me Here' and 'Lost Enemies' feel like subdued attempts to capture vibes found in the earlier stages of the release, but instead come across as tired and watered down ventures down the same road, but ones that fail to traverse the same distance, both in terms of intrigue and charm.
Eisley’s fourth full-length release features very much of the same tone as the band’s previous releases, albeit with a somewhat more expansive sound in spots. The sound is enjoyably tuneful and this is due in no small part to the efficiency of the band in performing a rich, somber and moving piece of work. All the elements merge in a way that feels very natural, but unfortunately the sound always feels as though at is grasping at something grander. Minor musical tics that pepper the music serve to expand the compositions beyond their somewhat restrictive styles but these impasses are never truly realized, leaving behind a release that is polished and charming, but really lacking the true musical development to award it a higher rating. This, coupled with the lapse in quality halfway through serves to create an underwhelming package, displaying potential for a genuinely impressive work of indie pop more critically akin to the band’s earlier albums. The earlier sections of the release seem to set a standard that the second half fails to live up to, in a jarring display of musical divergence. All that is left after the final strains of 'Shelter' have faded is a serviceable, enjoyable, but fleeting and vacuous piece of work that, with a little more writing time, could have been something far greater than what the final product represents.