ESKIMEAUX – ” Sparrow “

Posted: June 5, 2015 in MUSIC
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The most appropriate word to describe Gabrielle Smith’s solo project Eskimeaux might be “togetherness.” The band founded Brooklyn songwriting and art collective the Epoch in 2011 along with several of their friends, but this sense of mutual support and do-it-together philosophy has long been a part of Smith’s M.O. She originally formed Eskimeaux in 2007, all the while happily joining her peers’ and fellow collective members’ bands Bellows, Told Slant, and Frankie Cosmos. Smith’s songs reflect this type of profound concern for the well-being of those around her, an eagerness to take a backseat when others need her and a longing to still express her own sharp meditations on love and loneliness.

Several of the songs on O.K. are new versions of previous recordings, but this time around Smith has scaled back to outline each melody in clearer brush strokes. Where certain tracks on 2013’s Igluenza were monotone or drawn out, they graduate to fully formed pop on this release. Before, “I Admit I’m Scared” felt flat despite its visually compelling lyrics (“Everything I said spewed like sparklers from my mouth/ They looked pretty as they flew but now they’re useless and burnt out”), while here it’s one of the album’s strongest moments. Subtle harmonies slowly coax Smith’s gentle alto into a confident soar over Felix Walworth’s galloping drum fill. She casually divulges secrets as though her arm is already on your shoulder, her quiet relatability spiking upwards at the climax (“If I had a dime for every time I’m freaking out/ We could fly around the world or just get out of your parents’ house”).

Sonically, O.K. is the most fitting pallette for Smith’s work. In the past she’s played around with drum machines and broken synth beats, which weighed her down in gloomy, droning noise. This LP finally matches Eskimeaux’s illuminating presence. She slips from sparse indie-folk to ethereal pop throughout the record, each arrangement rich and meticulously composed. The band never overpowers Smith’s celestial vocals, and she’s able to keep up with the slow-burning tension when it eventually detonates. Walworth’s attentive drumming is a welcome addition that swells and retracts to complement Jack Greenleaf’s twinkling synth arpeggios.

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