All of these songs sound timeless, while avoiding the feeling of seeming dated.
The last few months have been good to Eyelids, especially when it comes to interpreting the work of others. Late last year, they released the fantastic Turning Time Around EP, a Lou Reed covers collection made with actor/performer John Cameron Mitchell. And now, with the band’s fourth album, The Accidental Falls, they tackle the work of the poet and songwriter Larry Beckett. The project has an obvious leg up on Turning Time Around; while that EP was bound largely by the original source material, simply using someone else’s words to create music offers a lot more freedom to create something new and spectacular with it.
Eyelids has sharpened considerably over the years, and it seems like they only get sonically better. It doesn’t hurt that they have a legend in their stable: Portland royalty Peter Buck (of, among other bands, R.E.M. and Filthy Friends) returns after helping produce 2018’s Maybe More to add his shine to these songs, and the boost in quality is unmissable. The end result is that all of these songs sound timeless, while avoiding the feeling of seeming dated.
It wouldn’t matter how good they sound if the material wasn’t good, though, and as with almost everything the band has put their names to, each of these songs are expertly crafted gems. “The Accidental Falls” moves like an ageless power-pop song with a stupidly infectious chorus, while you’ll almost certainly find yourself singing along with the guitar riffs of “The Minutes.” Chris Slusarenko, John Moen and Jonathan Drews never even flirt with sloppiness, but rather they fall into near-perfect harmony. Marvel at the dazzling way “Ceremony” drifts in and out of gentle psych-rock before careening back into the land of soaring guitar pop so effortlessly that you’d miss it if you blink. Just one song later, “River” replicates that same colorful drift over the course of an entire song. For my money, though, drummer Paulie Pulvirenti is easily the most indispensable part of the band. Look no further than his borderline-hypnotic rhythms on album standout “Found at the Scene of a Rendezvous That Failed,” which is perhaps among one of Eyelids’ best songs to date.
It’s easy to get lost within the songs of The Accidental Falls, and the songs that end up standing out the most are the ones like “Ceremony” that give themselves permission to wander through different atmospheres on their journey. Take “1, 2, 3,” for example. Boasting an almost krautrock-like gait with a hypnotic, fuzzy bassline that fights for dominance against towering riffs, it feels like you can almost get a handle on where the song is heading—and then, it shifts entirely and the song’s harmonies are joined solely by a miniature string section, for just a moment, only to crash back into acidic guitar wailing and freakouts. Then, though, you have songs like closer “Passion” or the broody “Mermaid Blues” that pull back from everything and give you something close to a moment or two of peace, revealing how much control these six people have.
The one true drawback is that, in working with another person’s words, it can leave The Accidental Falls feeling less like a new Eyelids album, and more like a curio that they’ve created with abnormally high replay value. They’re able to make it their own in a lot of different ways, but ultimately the restraint can make it slightly harder to connect with the album. All told though, The Accidental Falls is just another step on Eyelids’ way towards, against all odds, possibly blowing away any other band that the members have played in before this one.