My descent into rabid eagleowl fanboydom has been as slow a build as the climax of any of their songs. The first time I heard them play I really liked it. By the time of the release show for their ‘For the Thoughts You Never Had’ EP I thought they were bloody excellent. Late last year they released Sleep the Winter on 7″ and I was already becoming a bit of an embarrassment, but since their Toad Session in December and the spell-binding launch night for this new EP last Friday I am starting to think that a restraining order can’t be far away.
Collectively, they do have the atmosphere of a group hitting something of a purple patch. There was a confidence to their performance at the launch, and a verve to their playing which suggests that they feel that what they are doing is right. And it is. Very much so.
They may be post-folk slowcore (that’s not my phrase, and it is a bit silly, but it’s not a bad description unfortunately) but there’s actually more mischievous humour to their music than many of their more obviously sprightly contemporaries – as anyone who first snorted with laughter the first time they heard Motherfucker or had the dubious privilege of witnessing their recent R. Kelly cover at this year’s Homegame Festival can attest.
Their early material was thick and rich and glacially, agonisingly slow. I don’t mean that as a criticism, but I was always aware that to listen to any extended collection of their music there would be a definite danger of people being unable to penetrate the blanketing haze. Music, like a bicycle, needs a degree of momentum, and even as fan I was aware that eagleowl would have to tread a little carefully to ensure that their slow pace never meant that they keeled over altogether.
Recent work, and in particular this EP, makes a mockery of that concern, because despite being ridiculously long for a four-song record, Into the Fold seems to me to have an oddly puckish quality to it. I suppose I’d say that it seems to have a lightness of touch totally at odds with the sticky textures of much of the music, and this is at the heart of the trick eagleowl seem to be able to pull off with increasing alacrity.
In general I would describe Into the Fold as a work of utter brilliance, but I have actually found one little niggle, just to try and make this review seem a little less fawning, and it is this: in a live setting the choral ending to No Conjunction is so lovely it’s almost euphoric, but in this recording it remains just a little bit muted and I think that serves to rob it slightly of its emotive impact. I may only be saying this because I knew the live version before ever hearing it recorded, but whatever, that’s my tuppence worth. Otherwise, this EP really is just unspeakably good, and if you don’t buy it you’re a bloody idiot.
I was going to include a single song for download here, but there is a subtle variety to this record which means that I wasn’t really happy with picking any one song to represent the entire EP. It feels a bit weird to let you just hear the whole thing though, but given it’s up on the band’s Bandcamp page anyway I figured that was probably the best thing to do. My recommendation is to draw the curtains, sit down, turn the stereo up nice and loud and just let it wash over you.
eagleowl – Into the Fold (Toad Session)
Photo Credit: Blueback Hotrod