Album review: "Underneath Eyelids"
By Mark Jenkins
Friday, June 15, 2012
Eclectic and generally pastoral, Frau Eva’s new release, “Underneath Eyelids,” doesn’t sound like an album made in this town. But then again, it doesn’t sound like an album made in this century. The local quartet melds sunshine-pop harmonies with watery piano and flute, apparently inspired by cool jazz and 19th-century impressionist composers. Tricky structures and discordant moments also recall the arty 1990s movement dubbed post-rock.
Parts of the album strongly evoke music made in Los Angeles long ago. The pop-operatic “Pilot” juxtaposes the Beach Boys with the Sparks, while the yearning melody and languid “aah-aahs” of “Throwing Rocks” suggest very early Byrds. Yet Frau Eva forgoes standard pop-song structures and, even though all of the band members play guitar, shuns folk-rock jangle. Traditional hooks and choruses are not among the group’s concerns.
Although the timbres are diverse, David Klinger’s piano anchors most of the material. All four musicians sing, but Vanessa Degrassi’s soprano stands out, especially on such wispy pieces as “Blue Beetle” and “Watercolours.” Not all of these tracks are so delicate -- the flugelhorn-driven “Ivy Vines” is a notable exception -- and gentle rippling sometimes yields to emphatic pounding. Most often, though, “Underneath Eyelids” is a soundtrack for bobbing peacefully on the currents of time.