They have been compared to Low, Mogwai and art house film, they hang out in other bands’ music videos and they have played at every Fence Records Home Game Festival since 2006. Starting out as a duo in 2005, eagleowl have since evolved into a six-piece ensemble who like to advise their listeners to enjoy their music “responsibly.” On 13 May, Fence Records releases eagleowl’s debut album.
In contrast to the previous two EPs and single, This Silent Year seems more consistent. For instance, there is no glockenspiel anymore; instead the focus is on string instruments such as electric guitar, violin, cello and double bass, with support from drums, harmonium and organ. However, the instruments still lead and the songs are still taking their time to build. Against the elegiac sound, the deconstructed lyrics, short and recurring, wander through the soundscape like lost thoughts.
Or, in the case of “Not Over” and “Eagleowl vs Woodpigeon”, haunting thoughts that repeat in your head like unanswered questions, beautifully phrased by Bartholomew Owl, Malcom Benzie and Clarissa Cheong. Following lines such as “I don’t think you will” in “Forgetting,” violin, cello, double bass and drums often drive home a point.
Ostensibly more light-footed, “It’s so Funny” explores sudden changes in relationships, the instrumental “Soft Process” lets in some winter air but “Too Late in the Day” sets the tone for the album with a feeling that it might, for now, be too late to change anything. It also asks “is anybody breathing?” – a valid question to stop you in your tracks.
While the album, with the exception of a few brighter moments, thoughtfully walks the listener through loss, the last track “Laughter”, familiar from the single Sleep for the Winter, offers a decision: for once, a song ends on vocals and it ends on the line “I won’t see this through.” This Silent Year leaves you with no solutions but slows you down enough to hear yourself think.
Review by: Anne Malewski
6 April | Gnomegame Festival, Anstruther
10 May | Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh
12 May | Glad Cafe, Glasgow