Review: Eternal Summers – Correct Behavior
Published on August 6th, 2012 | Theo Gorst
Like Jack White, Eternal Summers seem to have come to terms with the limitations of just the drums and a guitar, and thus their second full length record Correct Behavior is marked by the addition of a third member.
“It seemed a disservice to the songs not to have a bass,” was how Nicole Yun and Daniel Cundiff justified the arrival of new member Jonathan Woods, and indeed it’s hard to imagine the record having quite so much impact without the rhythmic anchor Woods’s four strings provide.
Whereas the bands debut LP Silver had an abundance of energy, its failings arose as a result of the band’s limitations surrounding their choice of instrumentation. Whereas Silvers‘ ten songs were often unable to fully thrive, here the tracks are given an expansive quality that benefits the band to a great extent.
“Millions” begins the record with pounding drums and a tentative guitar line, but as a second guitar enters the track’s production allows the song to fully expand and engulf the listener. Yun’s vocals soar over the mix, and whilst she sings of “smash[ing] this shell”, the band’s new-found confidence is overwhelming, not to mention brilliant.
Much of the LP follows in a similarly assured vein: “Wonder” struts along like vintage “Dig Me Out”-era “Sleater-Kinney”, “I Love You” has a breathless chorus that wouldn’t sound amiss in the Shop Assistants’ back catalogue, and the chord progression on “Good As You” develops beautifully into a slowcore gem that could have been conjured by Galaxie 500.
For the most part the guitars recall the ’90s with the same overdriven emphasis on melody that The Pains of Being Pure At Heart captured on Belong, albeit with a slightly less polished production, but while the opening riff to a track like “You Kill” could appear on a Superchunk album, Yun’s vocals prevent the record ever approximating anything in the manner of a tribute band. Singing about outcasts and the like, her voice shows brilliant range while maintaining an empathetic quality that suits her lyrical subject matters of gaining confidence and maintaining relationships.
Whilst the band’s decision to evolve has certainly improved their songwriting, it’s unfortunate that Correct Behavior’s weaker moments are also the album’s most eclectic. The narrated “Girls in the City” is, although fun, perhaps more befitting of B-side status, and the programmed drums and murky bass on the New Order-esque “Summerset” feel out of place against the rest of the record.
One of the record’s stronger tracks, “Heaven and Hell”, contains the sort of ramshackle guitars one would find on a mid-’90s Yo La Tengo record. Indeed around that time Yo La Tengo were pushing – with great effect – the sonic boundaries of being a three-piece. If Eternal Summers continue to evolve at such an impressive rate then it’s not hard to see them doing the same.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!