If you happened to read my review of the Said the Whale show at Lee’s palace, you’ll have noticed some unnecessary jabs, that left my point of view rather callous. It felt reminiscent of Lisa Simpson calling out Homer for enjoying Flander’s failed attempt to open a Left Handed emporium. Schadenfruede…is the term she used, and thanks to Lisa, I’m German now.
If Lisa has taught me anything, it is to not find enjoyment through bringing others down, and it felt like I kind of did that on the review. Maybe that review was necessary though, perhaps it acted as a trial of character, kind of like Scott Pilgrim learning to fight Gideon Graves. Maybe I thought wrong, and now my transformation into Scott Pilgrim is complete. Maybe, just maybe, Fab finally earned the power of self respect, and with that, can review this new album with the help of meta Fab. Simply put, I realize there is a better way to deliver less than positive reviews without being insensitive. Thanks Lisa, and thanks, Scott Pilgrim.
Said the Whale’s last efforts, by way of”Hawaii” and “Little Mountain” received quite a bit of playing time from me in preparation for their live show. Unfortunately a lot of it didn’t stick, or for that matter, leave a lasting impression. I tried really hard to like it, but after 5 or 6 listens, I just attempted a straight up shuffle to see if diversifying the music would bestow upon me a single track I could take away.
There were a few that I recall, but overall nothing really left me satisfied and wanting more. I did however really enjoy “Resolutions” off of “Hawaii’, which fused some surf rock, some hip hop influence and dream pop into a successful track that was unexpected to say the least. It seems the band took the best aspects of that song, and decided to make a full length LP out of it. Good choice.
With “As you long as your Eyes are Wide”, Said the Whale delivers something vastly different from their past work. The album as a whole has a different feel sonically, and there is quite a bit of surf rock and dream pop influence across the whole album.
“Step into the Darkness”, is an awesome opener that establishes the themes and sounds of the album immediately. It dares you to not blast this song and aggravate your already sensitive ears. Contagious, and head bop evoking, this track will be the song on your summer playlist that everyone asks about. And let’s not get me started on that magical guitar accompaniment that comes in at about 1:50.
To follow “Step into the Darkness”, Said the Whale goes a little bit more mellow. Keeping with the dream pop aesthetic, (thank God), “More than ever” treats you to this wicked bass line that propels the song forward.
“Heaven” expands upon the dream pop influence of the album, and adds an element of psychedelia. The simplistic nature of the verses, leads to a sing along chorus that is both satisfying lyrically and instrumentally.
As someone who listens to instrumentation over vocals, the actual message of the album didn’t resonate with me entirely. Not because I’m unable to feel things and stuff, but because song meaning means less to me than well thought out and structured music.
Whereas in the past, Said the Whale‘s music wasn’t able to excite me, “As Long as your Eyes are Wide” delivers a refreshing sound that the band likely had to work really hard to achieve. I can’t imagine it being easy to throw away many of your past influences and start completely fresh, but it worked out tremendously here, as Said the Whale has put together their best album yet.
After finally familiarizing myself with the album, the lyrics got around to me. Songs like “Emily Rose”, “Realize Real Eyes” and “Miscarriage” definitely pull on your heartstrings, but the emotional heaviness of these songs is matched with a catchiness that is both delicate in vocals, and sharp in instrumentation.
Really the only song that I didn’t enjoy, is their latest single, “I Will Follow You”. It seems a bit predictable, and I don’t find it particularly catchy in general. It’s the one song that feels like it doesn’t fit, even if the lyrics are still within the themes of the album.
If this is the direction Said the Whale are going in, i’m all in. While the lyrical direction of the songs add some maturity to their music, “As Long as your Eyes are Wide”, sold me on the musical direction the band has gone in. Whereas in the past, I had to force myself to give multiple listens to the albums to find a stand out song, “As Long as your Eyes are Wide” was immediately satisfying, and one that I shall willingly opt for. The dreamy surf pop aesthetic is more than welcome, and I look forward to the band expanding these influences into a “harder” record.
I’m glad 2017 is able to add this record to its repertoire.