Last year, my darlings the Decemberists put out their album The King Is Dead, which I fell in love with and discussed. On November 1 of last year, they also released an EP, Long Live the King, that’s sort of an extension, stylistically. Last year, my darlings Eisley put out their album The Valley, which I fell in love with and discuss often. On February 14 of this year, they also released an EP, Deep Space, that is apparently “in anticipation of their fourth full-length album.”
So this is me discussing these two extension/anticipation EPs of beauty.
Long Live the King is folksy Decemberists goodness of the best kind. It’s everything that I have come to treasure about this band. Apparently, they’re hiatusing a while after this, which makes me sad, but at least they’re leaving us something more before they go for a while. The first track, “E. Watson,” is so beautifully… kind of morbid. The third track, “Burying Davy,” is also… kind of morbid. They’re not rolling about and wallowing in creepiness, but they’re laying it out there straightforwardly. Life is not a pretty story. That’s the message I get from the Decemberists in general. There are moments of beauty, sometimes, but not the simple kind like in fairy tales. No. And I absolutely love that. Being the also morbid cynic I sometimes am.
“Foregone” is the first single I head off this EP, and with reason: it’s a bit cheerier. It’s not cheery, exactly. None of their songs are. But it’s got a slightly more positive sound. It’s embracing that things will be however they’re meant to be, basically. No questions asked, just acceptance. Which, in terms of fate, is silly, but I don’t think it’s talking about fate. I think it’s just saying that “yes, sometimes things are rotten, but you deal with it and move on. That’s life.” And that’s realistic and awesome.
And honestly, these guys are the only ones I could allow to release a song titled “I 4 U & U 4 Me.” Honestly. (They make up for the ridiculous of the title by including things like “sticky wicket” in the lyrics.)
Oh, and hello, Grateful Dead cover.
Then “Sonnet” wraps it up in a ball of fanfare and whimsy and strangeness. Fairy tales but better. Really.
And we’re onto Deep Space. This starts out… also not entirely cheerful. Eisley has always been whimsy and strangeness, but they’re not purely cheerful in the strictest sense, either. This is actually my first listen to this EP, because I just got around to getting it (silly of me I know), so this is a good old album liveblog from here on out.
“Lights Out.” It’s beautiful, pretty, and I’m honestly regretting that I didn’t have it in my life when I was mixing a particular unpublished fanmix a few months ago (it’s got lots of the lyrical buzzwords for that mix: birds, lights, sleep, shells… yeah) but I’m sure I’ll find a perfectly good use for it eventually.
“Laugh it Off.” I’m a sucker for Stacyvoice. I mean, I love them all, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Stacy since she’s the keyboardist of the bunch. It’s a mellow track. It’s lyrically related to a lot of The Valley‘s tracks: it’s not exactly happy, it’s about relationships that don’t seem quite right. But it’s not quite as rousing and angry as a lot of those. And that’s okay. I’m realizing, not for the first time, that I will enjoy these guys in their softest simplest moods and their drumbeaty heart-poundy moods alike.
“Deep Space.” Whoops, and I’m a sucker for space. I honestly wasn’t sure if it was going to be literal deep space when I first heard the EP’s title, but I love that it is. It makes me so, so happy. I think this one, too, is just exploding with mixy potential. (Is it awful that that’s how I listen to albums now, even without trying? I swear I can’t help it.) It’s a little dark, too. It’s verbose. It’s lovely.
“192 Days.” I’ve heard this track before, as it’s also on the Fire Kite EP, but this version is a bit different. It’s fuller. This is a song about a relatively innocent, cute love. It’s not grand, the love, but it’s cute, and that’s what it needs to be at the time, so that’s all right with me.
“Preserve the memory of you and me and our perfect beautiful love.”
It’s not that it’s always going to be perfect. It might not be. But right now, 192 days into it, it seems perfect at this exact moment, and should be preserved in memory as such. And, whoops, I think I just read too much into what is really probably just a cute song.
“One Last Song.” Here comes another hint of trippy not-really-cheerful. The kids of Eisley have this gift for writing love songs that don’t make me want to punch someone. They’re not forever loves, always. But, like above, they’re perfect in the moment. They’re a different kind of not-quite-fairy tale. They’re singing about things that are beautiful. Fragile, but beautiful. Lovely, but in the way that makes you kind of want to cry sometimes (or if you cry about that kind of thing). It’s a little dark, and it’s still charming. Just how I like it.
–your fangirl heroine.