As March rolled in and slowly began granting Seattle more hours of sunshine, Eighteen Individual Eyes made sure the city still had a tantalizing taste of darkness. The Seattle quartet’s new album Unnovae Nights sounds like Wild Flag-meets-atmospheric art rock with a dash of nightmarish imagery.
Something sinister seems to be lurking around every corner of Unnovae Nights, but front woman Irene Barber’s alluringly smooth vocals help soothe the potential in a way that harkens to St. Vincent. While the album is packed with song titles like “Octogirl” and lines like “Love for fate. The place and time of death addressed and kept away,” the album avoids being dark in a cheesy way. This isn’t horror punk hokeyness. The interaction between Barber and guitarist Jamie Aaron gives the album a real identity. The coy interplay between their guitar lines on songs like “Tree Farm in the Darkness” builds each song’s tension, and Aaron also provides spot-on background harmonies.
Famed Seattleite producer Matt Bayles has his fingerprints all over Unnovae Nights. He knows how to make a rhythm section (drummer Andy King and bassist Samantha Wood) pop without burying the guitars in the mix (see: Mastadon, Minus the Bear, et al.). Some of the ripping lead guitar tones Eighteen Individual Eyes employ are also instantly familiar for fans of Bayles’s production. While tracks often show glances of math rock influence, they’re never tied down in technicality. These songs have solid cores that would still sound full even stripped down to Barber’s vocals and a single acoustic guitar.
Unnovae Nights is, appropriately, one of those albums that one can hardly imagine listening to in the day. Eighteen Individual Eyes are here to satisfy our nocturnal listening needs. Maybe those extra hours of daylight weren’t so great after all.
UPDATED 4/25/12. Eighteen Individual Eyes will play Neumos on April 26, and has joined the Capitol Hill Block Party lineup.
Eighteen Individual Eyes
Apr 26, doors at 8, Neumos, $8