By Reed Fischer
By Anna Gulbrandsen
By Jeff Gage
By Stacy Schwartz
By Natalie Gallagher
By Erik Thompson
By Jeff Gage
By Loren Green
Just ask Perry Farrell or Rob Halford: Following up a successful musical project with an equally good (or better) new group is a hugely difficult undertaking. And when band members' previous projects are as seminal as Meat Puppets, Nirvana, and Sublime, the task is damn near impossible. Fortunately, the members of Eyes Adrift are completely uninterested in outdoing their aforementioned former groups, opting instead to create a disc full of psychotropically languid songs. Musically, Eyes Adrift's debut album is not surprising: The playing is as flawless as should be expected from a band composed of Curt Kirkwood, Krist Novoselic, and Bud Gaugh. What is surprising is that these veteran musicians sound not like a supergroup but like a band. They don't step on each other musically. They don't grandstand. And their chemistry is natural.
Kirkwood is clearly the music director, even if he seems unable to accept himself as a genuine artist: "Here's the song that I sing/An imitation of the real thing," he sings on "Solid." But Kirkwood's intense introspection yields beautiful results: The gorgeous minor-key chorus on "Slow Race" makes it the prettiest song in his vast canon. Novoselic plays the court jester to Kirkwood's sad king, offering humorous observations about other people instead of musing about himself. His faux Western hoedown "Dottie Dawn & Julie Jewel" lightens the mood with corn-pone lyrics ("Julie passed out on the train/Got dreams of angels dancing in her brain") against a boom-chikka-boom drum line. His ultra-catchy "Inquiring Minds" should be Eyes Adrift's next radio single, though its chilling but very hummable refrain, "They put flowers on your grave, JonBenét, JonBenét," will probably keep it off most AOR playlists.
Even emotionally bankrupt listeners who don't get into lyrics will find the album rewarding on a purely sonic level. Kirkwood's backwater, acid-fried guitar stylings saturate the record like a gear-head's wet dream: He reaches deep into his bag of tricks for a slide, phaser, and EBow to make his guitar blast like a machine gun or wail like an electric violin before finally freaking out entirely in the 15-minute feedback jam "Pasted." Even this ode to excess is a delicious stoner confection, proving that the musicians in Eyes Adrift continue to create ambitious music. Thank god for second acts in life--especially when they're as strong as first acts.
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