The Low Anthem – Eyeland (album review)

by Woody on June 27, 2016

TLA

It’s been five long years since The Low Anthem blew our doors off with Smart Flesh . It was one of our favorites albums this year and like their prior efforts, has held up very well. It also led to this stellar session later that year.

Since that time, Mat and Jocie left the band, leaving Ben Knox Miller and Jeff Prystowsky to soldier on. Instead of moving on to a new album, Ben and Jeff threw themselves into the creation of Eyeland Studios, re-purposing the obsolete Columbus Theatre for their use. Somewhere during that time, the genesis of this album started, beginning as a “vague and rather abstract” short story by co-founder/singer/guitarist Ben Knox Miller, based around the “sonic mythology of a moth’s dreams.” But the studio started gaining some notoriety and musicians were eager to get in there to record which led to the album being shelved, or “incubated” as Miller puts it. Throughout all this, Ben & Jeff learned about the sonic capabilities of the space and began experimenting. And as they note in their bio, The Low Anthem never really take the direct route in anything they do.

So, long story short, this album is more than a collection of songs. It is 5 years worth of experimentation mixed with some hard work and perseverance that signals the rebirth of this band. Is it my favorite Low Anthem album? No, they’d be hard pressed to out-do Smart Flesh in my humble opinion. But there are moments of jaw-dropping brilliance on here. The Pepsi Moon, a tune about Pepsi turning the moon into a billboard is lovely. It is a quiet folk tune with cacophony of squealing violins and horns that feel like they were recorded down the street. Ozzie is a ramshackle tune about the one and only, Ozzie Smith. Truth be told, I hated this song at first but I slowly got an appreciation for it after hearing it on some good headphones and now I love it. Music is weird that way, I guess. In The Air Hockey Fire is a soft rock strummer that’s fleshed out with a host of quirky sounds. The tune is about the loss of youth after an air hockey game burns the house down.

Overall, this album grows on me every time I listen to it. Other than the two instrumentals, I seem to enjoy each track more and more each time I listen to it. Much like The Low Anthem, I don’t my full enjoyment of this album is going to a direct route. The band was just starting a tour but were involved in a fairly nasty accident. Everybody is home recovering and they’ll be back at it again.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

The Low Anthem are here

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