Thursday, April 16, 2009

Review: Eulogies - Here Anonymous (* * * 1/2)

Originally intended as a solo project for guitarist/vocalist Peter Walker, Eulogies soon blossomed into a full band (first a trio, now a quartet) and released their self-titled debut LP in 2007, and now are following up with their sophomore effort, Here Anonymous. Eulogies make fairly simple, straightforward music using almost exclusively just guitar, bass, and drums to make no-frills pop songs that focus on melody and hooks instead of experimentation or showy musicianship. At times, the new record practically follows popular songwriting 101 guidelines, which, though the approach may be worn, actually yields some consistently great results.

When working with a limited musical palette, the tendency is for an album to become tired or samey if the artists behind the project aren't careful (or talented). Fortunately, Eulogies are intelligent and skilled enough to avoid this kind of pitfall, and the majority of Here Anonymous is fresh and enjoyable. Many of the songs, like opener "Day to Day" and the quaint duet "Two Can Play" show off bassist Garrett Deloian's slinky riffs over which Walker's smooth voice and unobtrusive guitars bounce along pleasantly. The approach works well for the album's generally upbeat tunes, which range from melancholy to hopeful in their emotional delivery. Like the music, the lyrics throughout the album are quite simple and direct, though Walker rarely comes across as uninspired or lazy, he seems to just prefer to be understood.

A few songs shake things up on Here Anonymous, like the appropriately titled "A Dark Place" or the danceable, more guitar-heavy "The Fight (I've Come To Like)," and the variety is welcome. Even with their strong sense of melody and style, Eulogies let a few of the songs get lost in the shuffle of similar bass lines and drum kicks, and the more exploratory moments are necessary to add some flavor that keeps the listener tuned in. Luckily, there aren't any true misfires here, and the strongest songs far outweigh any weaker or less defined material. Also, the album never outstays its welcome or tries your patience at a trim 41 minutes and 12 songs.

After a few listens, I've continued to enjoy Here Anonymous and am impressed by the band's direct approach to pop rock music, which is a bit of a relief from so many often unnecessarily complex indie rock records being made today. This is a band that has some serious potential, and if they do as Walker states - that is - keep their 'eyes on the prize,' I imagine they'll only get better from here.