Release Date: Mar 4, 2014
Record label: Kanine Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop
Eternal Summers began their life as a duo. Safely ensconced in something called the Magic Twig Community—a cache of like-minded musicians living in the mountains of Roanoke, Virginia—the band’s first recorded efforts were a mixture jingle-jangle guitars and lo-fi minimalism. On their 2011 debut, Silver, Guitarist and vocalist Nicole Yun and drummer Daniel Cundiff tossed off anti-authority missives and swoony romantic paeans in equal measure, managing to wring a surprising amount dynamic tension from a simple guitar and drums setup.
It’s hard to stand out from the crowd these days. With the talent pool becoming saturated with diverse, genre-bending experimentalism, the foundation of pop-rock has become a shaky ground of shifting origins and influences. As a result, it’s rare nowadays to experience an album on steady footing. That’s not necessarily good or bad; it just is.
Review Summary: Prove yourself if you want to.Some time ago I came to the realization that there are probably a good deal of kids these days who have no clue what that blue square icon next to the “Save As” button means. It’s an unknown fragment of history whose relevance has been lost to time; an artefact from a civilization which they did not take any part in. It is a placeless concept, an archaic design that one can barely imagine being made, and therefore as solid an example as you can find of a business model that has simply become obsolete.
Despite the name, Eternal Summers are not a Fennesz cover band. Instead, the glitches they’re working with are the interstices between 80s and 90s alt-rock and indie pop (you’ve got to wonder what was on the mixtape exclusive from the album’s Pledgemusic crowdfunder; and as if that weren’t mystery enough, there was a mystery box!). The Drop Beneath takes their sound in a direction both more eclectic and more shoegazy than 2011’s excellent Correct Behavior, even occasionally straying into jangle-Cure territory.
The Drop Beneath, the third album from Virginia trio Eternal Summers is an easy album to like on the surface: it was produced by Doug Gillard (ex of Guided By Voices; he has recently joined Nada Surf), and he is such a particularly great musician that there’s a moment during the guitar solo of “A Burial” where you could swear it’s him playing because it’s in his signature chiming jangle-rock style. There’s a certain dream poppiness and a toughening of sound that makes The Drop Beneath sound, at times, like a mutant cross between My Bloody Valentine and the Cure, the latter being particularly evident in the barbed wire guitars and thudding low end. There’s even a song here titled “Never Enough”, which, of course, shares a song title with a single by Robert Smith’s group.
On their third album, 2014's The Drop Beneath, the Virginia trio Eternal Summers continue to drift further from their roots as a sweet indie pop duo and now sound like a high-powered indie rock machine with their sights set on large venues and radio playlists. Not that there's anything wrong with that when a band can achieve its goals without sacrificing its core competencies. Eternal Summers do not sacrifice anything important on this album.
The first impression left by The Drop Beneath, perhaps unfairly, is that Virginia trio Eternal Summers have significantly improved the quality of their sound. While they’d worked with outside producers and mixers before, something about traveling to Austin to work with Nada Surf/Guided by Voices veteran Doug Gillard seems to have really revamped the process. But to give the crystalline production sole credit for the improvement from 2011 debut Silver would be an overstep; Nicole Yun, Daniel Cundiff, and Jonathan Woods have matured as a unit, tightening their grasp on their potential without narrowing their scope.