As they finish out their first decade as a band, Portland, Oregon’s Eyelids have covered a lot of ground. From the half-studio, half-live hybrid of 2018’s Maybe More, 2019’s EP with John Cameron Mitchell (Turning Time Around), and 2020’s collaboration with Tim Buckley lyricist Larry Beckett (The Accidental Falls) to a massive live release (2021’s Dubbel Live) and numerous singles, the band keeps themselves busy and fans guessing what their next move will be. So it’s both surprising—and not surprising at all—that 2023 sees them releasing their first “normal” new album of studio recordings since Or in 2017. Working with frequent collaborator Peter Buck (of REM fame), A Colossal Waste Of Light doesn’t stray far from the band’s jangly indie rock roots, but it does add some new dimensions to their sound.
One thing that makes Colossal so strong is that both the songs that fit with the established Eyelids sound and those that offer a bit of a departure work equally well. Buck and the band coax all sorts of sounds out of their guitars, but those sounds are always melodic and layered, each part slotting into place like a sonic jigsaw puzzle. Tracks like opener “Crawling Off Your Pages,” “Only So Much,” “Everything That I See You See Better (220,” and “Pink Chair” call to mind influences as varied as The Byrds and early U2, but will satisfy any listeners in search of the jangle. That said, there also seems to be a bit of a shoegaze influence this time around. No, Eyelids haven’t gone full My Bloody Valentine, but some of the heavier moments call to mind acts like Ride with their denser arrangements and more textured sounds.
Other tracks are more obvious departures from the band’s usual indie rock fare. “That’s Not Real At All” deconstructs the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” riff, spreading it out with spacious production that includes mellotron-like synth strings, new wave guitar licks, and layered vocal lines. “Misuse” is a late-album acoustic ballad in the Elliott Smith vein, while “Lyin’ In Your Tomb” unleashes Peter Buck for a groove-heavy, hypnotic slice of psychedelic rock. These kinds of tracks aren’t complete departures, and each song is still recognizably Eyelids’ work; they just expand what the “Eyelids sound” might be.
A Colossal Waste Of Light offers ample evidence that bands can emphasize creativity and craft at the same time. Eyelids offer listeners enough new directions to keep things interesting, but they approach each song with the same focus and attention to detail. The band feels just as vital now as ever—a promising sign as they enter their second decade.
“A Colossal Waste Of Light” / “Everything That I See You See Better (22)” / “Lyin’ In Your Tomb”
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