Release Date: May 28, 2013
Record label: Equal Vision
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop
Eisley have always been a consistently satisfying band when it comes to writing loosely folk-based pop-rock songs—that is, until their last few releases, where they’ve made a conscious effort to write music that is generally more thematic and “experimental” in nature, with songs and sounds meant to create an atmosphere around their conceptual lyrics. Although the band’s music has been getting progressively moodier and more ambitious over the course of three full-lengths and a handful of additional releases, on Currents, their most recent album, they do an excellent job of crafting a record around a specific theme, so that it moves along with the dreamy ebb and flow of the atmospheric and metaphorical currents they sing about. Of course, a lot of Eisley’s music could be considered “dreamy” by people who use that adjective, as they have always had a penchant for utilizing sort of lofty background instruments, with lots of strings and keyboards that add an airy quality to many of their songs.
Four of the five members of familial (four siblings and one cousin) dream rockers Eisley became parents during the downtime between 2011's The Valley and 2013's Currents, resulting in an ambitious Kickstarter campaign to help fund their next tour, a jaunt that would include the whole brood. With so much attention spent trying to juggle family and a career in music, one would expect the group's fourth long player to be a bit unfocused, but the remarkably lush, complex, and rewarding (multiple spins are required) Currents feels more like a mission statement than an aberration, offering up 12 immaculately rendered slabs of intimate, yet emotionally grounded and often soaring indie pop gems that evoke the names of artists like Cocteau Twins, the Innocence Mission, and Beach House. Comforting, uplifting, yet world-weary enough to occupy the grey area between secular and non-secular rock, Currents works on multiple levels, due in large part to it being the first Eisley album to arrive via the hands, hearts, and minds of its creators.
Now that Eisley are free from major-label woes and have their own home studio to record in, it seems that their musical focus has sharpened up for the better. Currents comes just two years after 2011's The Valley (itself taking four after 2007's Combinations), and though Eisley have always dropped EPs full of delight and promise in between album cycles, their fourth album showcases marked progression for the familial quintet. Make no mistake: Eisley are still crafting atmospheric, enchanting indie pop that tactfully avoids even approaching the brink of overly sick sweetness.
Eisley’s last album, 2011’s “The Valley,” triumphed with an emotional specificity more pronounced than anything the band had done in the past. Per its title, “Currents” is a more watery affair, both in the liquidity of its acoustic-Kate-Bush sound (especially Garron DuPree’s submerged bass and the shallow-puddle splash of Weston DuPree’s drums) and in the soupiness of its songs. Gone is much of the band’s tension and dynamism, replaced by a subdued insularity; a song like “The Night Comes” is Eisley with all the corners sanded down.