Amid a flurry of interest and some serious label courting, Warner Bros was fortunate enough to actually get Eisley, the dreamy band from tiny Tyler, Texas, to actually sign on the dotted line.
Made up of the DuPree siblings (Chauntelle, Sherri, Stacy and Weston) and best friend Jonathan Wilson, Eisley is poised for the big time with the release of their first album Room Noises. Full of haunting melodies and tales of enchanted places and doings, the album is a near masterwork by any standards, but it’s even more incredible considering that the oldest member of the band is only twenty-four years-old. And if that isn’t enough of a shock, the quirky fairy-tale lyrics are co-written by the youngest member of the band, sixteen year-old Stacy, along with her sister Sherri.
The DuPree kids were home schooled by their progressive parents Boyd (who travels with his children) and Kim and the closeness of the family unit shows in the incredibly tight playing throughout the album. The members of Eisley have mentioned influences that range from Pink Floyd to Radio Head and aspects of classic mood rock to electro pop definitely show up all throughout the album.
Eisley stakes out their moody melancholy territory right away on the album’s first track “Memories”. Lyrically, the song, about a husband and wife separated by death, plays almost like a ballad buried away in old music books from centuries ago. However, when Stacy and Sherri’s voice meet and harmonize it’s all pop gloriousness.
In fact, you can almost imagine what The Beach Boys would have sounded like if they had been The Beach Girls. Vocally, these aren’t girly girls though. They do have pretty voices, but they are also powerful in the tradition of Evanescence’s Amy Lee.
Eisely also shows its quirkier side on tunes such as “Telescope Eyes” and “Plenty of Paper”. Both pretty much defy literal description, but the Pink Floyd influences come through loud and clear. On “Plenty of Paper” the Dupree girls harmonize about the “dire dreams of men and machines”.
It’s a departure from some of the other tracks where the vocalists constantly cast themselves as woodland sprites peeking out from a Tim Burton-type forest instead of portraying real flesh and blood earthlings. It’s a risk, but it works and doesn’t do any permanent damage to the enchanted Eisley spell.
Not surprisingly, Eisley falters a bit when they try to put across anything like mainstream music. The track “Golly Sandra” is reminiscent of the sun and surf of Beach Blanket Bingo days, but Eisley can’t seem to stay grounded enough to sell this one. “My Lovely” is one of those songs that is straining and straining to be a pop hit (lite FM style). It does bring The Cranberries to mind for a moment, but the song quickly gets caught in a repetitive loop and ends up falling flat.
Eisley does manage to keep on track for most of the album though. “Marvelous Things” with it’s nonsensical fairytale lyrics such as “I glimpsed a bat with butterfly wings” and message about making even the most dark and brooding things into something strangely beautiful is probably the closest that one can get to nailing down a concrete theme to the band’s music.
This idea shows up again on the fairy dust track ” Brightly Wound” where Sherri and Stacy sing about holding “sunlight and fireflies”. “I shall never grow up/Make believe is too fun”, they proclaim. And who can blame them for wanting to permanently inhabit the J. R. R. Tolkein-esque world they have created?
In a smart move, Eisley saves the best for last. The final track off of Room Noises is entitled “Trolley Wood” and even if it’s not the album’s best track production-wise; it stands to make the biggest impact among listeners. With an infectious beat that is sure to have scores of listeners clapping along, coupled with its melancholy tale of one day finding a magical trolley that runs through the woods only to have it disappear.
As Eisely hums about how they “doubt we’ll ever see it again”, “Trolley Wood” goes from being just a fun pretty song to a perfect metaphor for the loss of childhood and innocence. It’s one of those songs that probably hits close to home for a band whose members are finding themselves taking their first unsteady steps into adulthood right in the middle of the spotlight. It’s also sure to resonate with their target audience and well, anyone who has ever had to grow up a bit faster than they would like.
Warner Bros. has obviously spared no expense on their latest find and it shows. The album is well-produced. It’s shiny without being slick and never overwhelms the artists at work. Only time will tell if Eisley will continue to grow as a band. They may have to break away from their dreamy style as they mature and start reaching a larger audience. However, if they can continue to stay on track, amid all the buzz they are generating, pop music may have found its new kings and queens. . . or at the very least – it’s princes and princesses.