Snapshot Review: Eternal Summers – Correct Behavior [Kanine]
If you’re going to pick a band name as emotionally evocative as Eternal Summers, you’d best have the material to back it up. People get excited about summer, because it means time off from school or work, warm weather, and lazy days by the pool or lake with family and friends. It’s a special season to say the least, and one we often wish would go on forever. The road hasn’t always been paved with sunshine and blissful happiness for Eternal Summers though. They’ve spent the last few years in relative obscurity, part of a somewhat secret music community in their hometown of Roanoke, VA called Magic Twig. It’s a loose collective of musicians that work with one another without much regard for official band membership. They have their own recording studio and embrace the DIY/lo-fi aesthetic. Guitarist/singer Nicole Yun and drummer Daniel Cundiff met that way, and with their minimal pop powers combined they became established enough to earn a record deal. After a couple of EPs, 2010 saw the release of their first full length Silver. While it certainly achieved some degree of measurable success, reviews weren’t exactly glowing with affection for the duo. Then further tragedy struck: while on tour, their gear was stolen. Yun’s special Parker Nitefly guitar was among the losses, and she didn’t have the money to pay for a new one. Other guitars didn’t quite have the sonic range to pull off some of their songs, so to compensate for the low end they brought in bassist Jonathan Woods. Becoming a three-piece has fleshed out Eternal Summers’ sound more than ever, as has their decision to outsource the mixing of their new album Correct Behavior to New York, where The Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner and producer Alonzo Vargas took care of it. They may have been concerned about letting other people have some degree of control over their sound, but the end product really shines positively on the growth of the band and provides the leg up needed to get the attention they deserve. Helpful as these changes might be, in the end they don’t amount to much if the songs themselves aren’t good. Thankfully Eternal Summers don’t have that problem, as this album features stronger lyrics, more confident vocals and more candy-coated hooks than anything they’ve ever done before. First single “Millions” kicks things off in a very bright and bouncy fashion, really hammering home the fuller sound and putting Yun’s vocals at the front of the mix. “I’ve got to shake this shell and break it into millions,” she sings, and while it’s supposed to represent a new found freedom in your life, in many ways it also feels like the band is starting fresh and embracing the same ideals. That same intense energy and playfulness continues to carry on through super addictive songs like “Wonder,” “You Kill” and “I Love You.” All together those first four songs make for one of the best starts of any record so far this year. Cundiff’s drumming is propulsive in exactly the ways it needs to be, especially on more punk rock numbers like “You Kill” and “Girls in the City.” Yun also gets in some intelligent guitar solos on “Wonder” and “Heaven and Hell,” likely the result of not having to worry about being the only guitar in the band anymore. There are a few moments where Correct Behavior slows down, which help balance out the record nicely and give you a chance to catch your breath. “It’s Easy” and “Good As You” are dreamy and beautiful in all the ways they need to be, holding your attention when they very well could have killed the mojo established by the quicker, more upbeat tracks. Perhaps the biggest standout on the entire album comes right in the middle with “Girls in the City.” It’s the only track where Cundiff handles the vocals, and the post-punk melody blended with his very cut-and-dry baritone makes it comparable with something you’d hear from Joy Division or Crystal Stilts. Eternal Summers showed hints of such influences on their previous releases, however it’s never come across as clearly as it does here. The only real problem is that it doesn’t mesh as well with the breezier pop stuff that’s all over the rest of the record. Finding a better way to incorporate new and different styles is one of the things they can work on for their next long player. In the meantime, Correct Behavior goes a very long way towards making Eternal Summers the sort of band you want soundtracking those times of fun in the sun.