By Travis Becker
L.A. is a tough scene. It leaves
most of its prolific and promising talent broke and lying in the gutter
with its own lipstick fresh on the faces and collars of the fallen.
American Eyes are the next batch of aspiring world-conquerors trying to
pull themselves up from the dives and clubs of the Sunset Strip up to the
bright shining lie of success and national prominence. It says something
about the band's fortitude that they were able to make it far enough up
to record an album, which they have done with this year's self-titled debut
release by the band. Already selling out club dates on the Strip,
the group strives with this record to reach the next plateau, to turn American
Eyes into a household name rather than just rock club bathroom graffiti.
Make no mistake, though, they still want you to dial up their number for
a good time.
"American Eyes" drones from the beehive
of your speakers with another pointless punk rock introduction and never
breaks cadence for the duration of its generous running time. Despite
their youth, American Eyes send a pretty well played set of material down
the assembly line and producer Alex Gibson does an even-handed job putting
the pieces together. There is no one involved who is doing a completely
incompetent job in other words. The writing lacks focus, however,
and a few of the songs are downright aggravating. Repetition of choruses
and riffs and overdone effects sap the compositions of any energy they
may have had. Sometimes, songs like these will translate better live
than on record, one can only hope that this is the case in this instance.
Live reviews for the band have been generally positive, so it very well
may be. At times on the album there is just too much going on.
The goal seems to have been to make a masterwork of sound and production
that somehow combines early Duran Duran and late Pink Floyd with a little
early Suicidal Tendencies thrown into the mix, not for sound but maybe
just adolescent angst and sarcasm. It just ends up collapsing into
a gigantic mess rather than a Jackson Pollack masterpiece.
The real problem with the record lies deeper
than any layered-on echo effects or out of place soundscapes. The
root of the American Eyes' shortcoming is that, unlike truly great records,
the record doesn't make the listener feel much of anything. It doesn't
fall on its face and splash around in the muck and it doesn't soar to that
height that lets you feel the wind in your hair. It just sort of
strolls along and gives you a nod as it passes you on the street.
It's a restaurant that sells nothing but oatmeal stuck in a food court
full of soul food joints and extra spicy Thai food assassins. The
production is a little flat for starters, which doesn't help their case.
The whole record is done up in an eighties-style that feels like that awkward
transition between Punk and New Wave when bands that weren't securely in
one camp or another were still deciding which was the safer bet to survive
(it was neither, whoops!).
There is a segment of the music-buying
population that will like this release. Punk fans, especially ones
who lean towards the lighter side of the genre, and people who dig 80's
Pop and New Wave may find something to listen to while applying their mascara.
Their live show may be life-altering, so maybe I'm just missing the point
but it's hard to find much to recommend this release. They're young,
so they still have a few albums left in them. Let's just hope those
albums are better than this one. L.A. isn't just a tough scene, it's natural
selection in overdrive and American Eyes are just another vestigial tail.
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