As a band size ebbs and flows over the years, the overall sound of the affected group will likely change in accordance. Adding new members and losing old brings fresh talent, ideas, and perspectives to a group of ever-developing musicians. Indie group Said The Whale formed in 2007 and have released five albums featuring different musicians with each new recording. After the most recent loss of their drummer and bassist, the band re-emerged this March after four years of inactivity.
Reformed as a trio, the new member arrangement brings an innovative crisp sound to the band’s discography. ‘As Long as Your Eyes Are Wide’ veers further from the original folk influence heard on their debut record. The album plays with drum loops, buzzing synths, painful lyrics, and optimistic melodies without getting lost in production. The polar juxtaposition of texture and lyrics showcases the bands understanding of both music and emotion. This departure from their more playful nature in favor of ethereal maturity carries them to their most human record yet.
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Songs like ‘Step into the Darkness’ and ‘Emily Rose’ bridge the gap between old and new. The soaring multi-vocal harmonies and shiny melodies will undoubtedly satisfy any perfectionist. ‘Emily Rose’ is an obvious stand out on the album, coupling the bands more traditional power-acoustic nature with somber lyrics. The song serves as the perfect tribute to a deceased friend of the founding members. Lines like, “I’m gonna leave a light on/for Emily Rose. I’m gonna leave a light on/in case you come home,” balance the love and mourning felt through death.
Shimmering electronic textures surround and support strong, catchy vocal melodies to explore these themes of grief and sadness. ‘I Will Follow You’ is one of the more dance-worthy songs on the album, but continues to play with dark lyrics. The funky chromatic melodies and cascading rhythms push through the song’s themes. It’s almost impossible to keep from sing along to the catchy rhythm of lines like “even though we are all born innocent/it doesn’t take too much to fuck it up.”
Though every song has redeemable qualities that make the entire album exciting, some tracks tend to drag. The flat head-bopping rhythms of ‘More Than Ever’ struggle to carry the song to its full length. ‘Miscarriage’ portrays a painful experience with beautiful slow chromatic runs, but starts to become overwhelming. Layers of whirring synths and shimmering vocals create a dream-like listening experience that’s easy to forget.
As a whole, ‘As Long as Your Eyes Are Wide’ is nothing short of an amazing record. Lessons of hope and patience are heard throughout the lyrics and instrumentation of this album. When life’s trials and general absurdity gets in your way, ‘As Long as Your Eyes Are Wide’ is a realistic take on the experience of that pain, and leaves room to dance and laugh in its face.