Eikon | Careful Hands/Steady Hands (s/r)

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At just four songs it’s woefully short, and even those four songs don’t quite know what to make of themselves.

Can I just say it now? I’m a sucker for a falsetto. And I love Aaron Krause’s voice. Just looking at him, you wouldn’t guess the Eikon frontman would have such heavenly pipes. He’s a generally unassuming kid, the kind you won’t notice has been standing next to you all along until he takes the stage and commands every pair of ears in the room.
The Nashville-by-way-of-St.-Louis quartet has released its long-overdue debut...with just two small problems. One, at just four songs it’s woefully short, and two, even those four songs don’t quite know what to make of themselves.
First up, the title track is every bit as inviting a bite as the band’s indie rock smarts have suggested it might be. Layers of sounds both organic and not slip over and across one another while Krause delivers lines that shape and shift atop music that is alternately declaratory and inquisitive. Then we get to the next song.
“Children, Be Love” seems like it’s angry: at itself, maybe, at Eikon for making such sublime rock of the indie ilk, or at all those hipsters out there who think they have this band figured out. It’s a mass of noise and guitars, with Krause’s falsetto—to say nothing of the near-entirety of his voice—buried deep in the rubble.
By track three, the pendulum has swung back in the other direction…and past its mark. Not that the piano-led “Bless This Heart” isn’t a perfectly lovely song; it’s just too lovely to have followed song two. It also feels comparatively inconsequential, somehow: the snarl has been replaced with bare gums. “Bless This Heart” swells in the last minute, becoming richer by at least threefold.
This bite-sized release gives us one more song to wrap our ears around. Kicking off with what sounds like a child’s xylophone and chorused “la-la-la”s, “Keep It Close” makes the decision for us: Eikon is twee indie pop. Or maybe….it’s angry noise pop? Or…Ben Folds-inspired, unabashed pop? Or maybe (and I’m hoping for this one)…it’s haunting, richly multilayered indie pop backed by a talented bevy of musicians and fronted by a boy with an angel of a voice? “Careful Hands/Steady Hands” A+; overall B- | Laura Hamlett
RIYL: +/-, Parachute Musical

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