January 19, 2004

Some funny-bunny sent me a copy of Marvelous Things, the latest record by Tyler, Texas family act Eisley. In my review of their tepid debut Laughing City, I quite reasonably stated what I believed to be Eisley's faults, flaws and the general reason I do not like them, and I thought that was the end of that. I guess someone decided to have a bit of fun with my review policy. So here I am, listening and writing about a record I had no intention of ever reviewing by a band whose future seems so predetermined.

Marvelous Things illustrates my point quite nicely. First, any semblence of life within these songs have been glossed over to the point of sterility. When you're transparent, people see through you, and their songs are too precious to be taken seriously. They sound as if they were ripped out of the pages of a velvet-covered diary that belongs to A Very Serious Teenage Girl Who Is Misunderstood By The World. To be fair, they're trying to sound arty and deep and lyrical, but they fail--not because they're not trying, but because 'wisdom' is not something most fifteen year old girls possess. It doesn't mean that they should be condemned for trying---here's your gold star, Eisley, go get a cookie--but it doesn't mean that we should play the Let's Be Fair To Everyone Just Because They Tried game, either.

Someone convinced Eisley's people that it would be a really good idea to put the DuPree sisters' vocals SO FAR IN FRONT OF THE MUSIC that any and all instrumentation is overwhelmed by their vocals. Not that they've got bad singing voices, mind you--they're not bad, but they're not quite good enough to be put so high up in the mix. Highlighting the vocal abilites of your lead singer is one thing, but forcing your audience to hear really inane lyrics is another, and that sin's not so easily forgiven. Actually, Marvelous Things proves my point by the inclusion of a really excellent, non-big-budget-produced number, "The Winter Song." All of the things that make their other songs so bland and lifeless---mainly Big Corporation Money--are nowhere to be found, and it's here, dear readers, where Eisley is truly beautiful and worthy of the temporary hype.

I am going to step away from you, dear readers, to address Eisley for a moment. Folks, growth doesn't come from being pampered and sheltered and protected from the world. You may hate me, Eisley, but I don't speak these things out of hate. You really, truly need to consider who you're getting in bed with, because I feel your handlers are misguiding you. Do you think you'd have the big press if you three were boys? Doubt it. Because of this, your music is being altered in ways that suck the life out of it. I'll just say right now that the one song on here that I actually like is "The Winter Song."

I want to like you, Eisley, but your production simply keeps me from it. I still haven't felt as if what I'm hearing is really you. You're like that really nautrally beautiful girl who uglies herself up when she puts on make-up. I want to see you without all the makeup, without all the fakeness, without all the pretense--because maybe, just maybe, there's something there. But if wanting to be big is your thing, I can help you with that, too.

My suggestion? Call your new record Are You There God? It's Me, Eisley and you'll be a smash. Just be prepared for that big let down.

--Joseph Kyle

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