(EP, Western Star)
“I awake each morning,” wrote the late, lamented Ian Dury, “With a gift for womankind.” On the evidence of The Eyelids eagerly anticipated new EP, it appears that the sisters have some endowments of their own to bestow. And unlike Lord Upminster’s notched and gnarled bangstick, theirs is a thing of prefect beauty.
Minted on blood red vinyl, the four track EP showcases a quartet of new originals that have been thoroughly road tested across the band’s regular shows throughout the past year. It represents a band who have, through constant live action, reached a genuine gestalt. All the components lock together with clockwork precision to create a broiling, exultant gumbo of badass, bad girl goodness that … well, leaves you wanting more.
Mostly recorded on the first take, the disc opens with the eponymous live favourite, an irresistibly infectious exercise in hedonistic abandon that combines Louise and Michelle’s synchronised syncopations, Sharon’s serrated guitar, and Kelly’s rich, sultry vocal to create a track that is a genuine leap forward even when compared to their excellent debut album, Rats. The band’s tightness allows them to slip in tricky time signature changes with apparent ease, as is evident here with a middle eight that sees the track’s triumphant chorus segue into a Brill Building pastiche that showcases Kelly’s vocal talents to mesmerising effect. “I do enjoy throwing weird bits into our songs, but I really didn’t enjoy that middle eight part until I’d finalised the backing vocals. I felt they tied it together,” she explains “On the recording I think most of the backing vocals are overdubs of me, but Sharon joins me during the choruses.”
“We chose ‘We Always Want More’ to be the title track of the EP because we were really pleased with the way it sounded on the recording, and we thought it was one of the catchiest ones,” Kelly adds. “Also, we toyed around with having a sea-themed EP for a while, but that didn’t quite materialise.” Despite this, the EP still has a strong aquatic motif threaded through it – from Natalie Toms’ eye(lid)-catching cover art, through the title track’s Marinaesuqe backing vocal, to the closing shores of ‘Slaughter Beach’.
‘Listen To Me’ is a cautionary, double bass propelled tale of helpless jeopardy, suffused with restraint and allure in equal measure and embellished with zephyrs of badlands guitar. Hot on its heels comes the impressive ‘Bang On The Door’, a pell mell descent through the barbed layers of domestic discord that continues the previous track’s invocation of that garage rock lyrical standby, the doomed romance. “Doomed relationships are rather a theme aren’t they,” observes Kelly. “When I write lyrics, I try not to make them too autobiographical, as I find them difficult to write and be happy with, but it’s usually a situation or story that I sympathise with. I suppose I have had more doomed relationships than successful ones! I have been trying to play around with different perspectives, and I’ve always loved songs that tell a story. Sometimes I’ll take a story and tell it as if I’m experiencing it, other times it will be a personal situation I found myself in, and I’ll run with it in a particular direction that bears no resemblance to real life.”
Both the EP’s central tracks are imbued with a degree of lyrical didacticism whereby such cautions as ‘Don’t go home tonight’, ‘Take your time’, and ‘Don’t lose your head’ all hold sway. “I’m not sure about the lyrics offering advice,” counters Kelly. “I think I’m quite good at offering advice, and less good at following advice from other people. There’s probably a song in that!” Musically, ‘Bang On The Door’ is unstoppably percussive, with rhythm twins Michelle and Lou locking together seamlessly. The track also demonstrates the Eyelids’ mastery of space – silence is a rhythm too. Vocally, Kelly’s domestic defiance is countered by layers of vocal overdubs that call to mind the New York Dolls’ good/bad but not evil backing on ‘Trash’. “My favourite aspect was having the opportunity for us to add extra bits to the recordings,” recalls Sharon. “Kelly made layers of harmonies in the chorus of ‘Bang On The Door” – I love how that turned out. There’s a few extra guitar parts here and there and even a bit of shaky egg.” “Yeah, ‘Bang On The Door has a choir of Kellys,” adds Lou. “We recorded it as we play it live then decided what bits and bobs to add.”
Catchier than a mankini full of crustaceans, disc closer ‘Slaughter Beach’ runs ‘We Always Want More’ close in the ohrwurm stakes. The track bounces, fizzes and coruscates before effortlessly negotiating a tricky time change through the bridge before resolving in its priapic chorus. “‘Slaughter Beach’ was actually inspired by a town in America which is supposedly named because thousands of horse-shoe crabs travel there to spawn each year and then wash ashore, dead,” Kelly reveals. “But I suppose there is general theme of escape within the song, and of trying to convince yourself that you are happy.”
Supported by Michelle and Louise’s rolling, rockin’ rhythms, Sharon’s guitar carves a distinct niche across the track, like angry bees with angry bees in their mouths. “I’m not sure what you mean by distinct niche, most of the time in my guitar playing I’m just trying to hit of the right notes,” she demurs. “The girls are great, I’ve settled in well – they made that easy.”
Although the EP was recorded in the group’s customarily immediate fashion, the disc is enriched by Alan Wilson’s deft production, which enables each aspect of this perfectly balanced whole to shine through. “Recording these songs in Western Star was fun – Alan is lovely to work with,” Sharon attests. “We had a great time and lots of laughs.”
Happily for us lucky people, this is just the start – the band are currently working on new material for their second album. “We’ve got some good un’s recorded for the album too, which will be out next year sometime,” confirms Louise.
To nab yourself a copy of ‘We Always Want More’ click HERE