Maybe it's because I'm a child of the 1990s and came of age at a time when people were trying to make music that sounded like it was the future (because the future was "now"), but one of my new-music-bloodhound tendencies is to seek out music that feels like it is looking specifically ahead and not behind. I can obviously respect a gentle piano ballad that hearkens back to Carole King's heyday, or a riff sprayed straight from a can of hair metal, or a pre-chewed bubblegum pop throwback. Retro stylings are what keep us grounded as listeners, preventing us from flying out into outer space. But I can't help it. I might be that obnoxious guy who goes to the restaurant in Ratatouille, asking "What does the chef has that's new?"
A while ago I was despairing about the current clogged state of social media, specifically about how the first day of Zuck's Threads was a gross abyss of blue check brands yes-anding each other, and I distracted myself by asking Twitter what music everyone was listening to that day. Charlotte Mulvey, who makes music as Ciemme, said she was listening to the Minneapolis band Early Eyes, specifically their 2022 album Look Alive!, and I'm not gonna lie...I liked their album art and that's the main reason I gave them a whirl initially. Sometimes you can judge a CD by its jewel case.
As soon as I put it on, Look Alive! just...hit. Quickfire genre references abound — chillwave, hyperpop, one or two flavours of emo, jazz, jaunty Hall & Oates-style smooth keyboard stylings — but it all comes coated in an undeniably fresh production sheen, pitched somewhere between DIY-bedroom and high-gloss studio. Even the organic instrumentation glows with a faint digital aura at all times. Early Eyes sound like they're making 2020s music, if that makes sense: it's melodic, textured, irreverent, high energy, cathartic, and ultimately hard to pin down. I could see them crushing a scrappy basement show or slaying an afternoon timeslot at a big festival, or even crafting a grandiose theatrical experience. I could play them for my dirtbag-rock-enjoying husband, or for my mom, who once listened to Kevin Rudolph's "Let It Rock" on repeat for two hours straight. Look Alive! is music for everyone, which is, I guess, what pop music is...nimble music...built for today's unrelenting multiverse. I dig!!