On their debut album, Lincoln, NE’s Eagle*Seagull displays many of the typical characteristics of a perennial indie rock favorite. Arcade Fire comparisons have followed this band practically since they began circulating on the internet, and singer Eli Mardock projects with one of those earnest yet quirky voices we’ve all come to love, nay, demand from good old-fashioned American indie. Yet, Eagle*Seagull must also have a penchant for classic rock as well. Many of their songs are giant, swelling ballads, and they certainly have a flair for the dramatic. Take into account that there are songs on this record that resemble “Stairway to Heaven” and “Mr. Blue Sky,” and there’s no question that we’re dealing with a group that enjoys dusting off the old hi-fi now and again.
So the first of those tracks, “Lock and Key” (the one that sounds like “Stairway” ), doesn’t particularly steal the over the top anthemry of Led Zep, or the manic wailing of Robert Plant, but the melodic similarity is hard to ignore, as is the emotional, drawn out nature of the track, which slowly sets the stage for the vast array of sounds to come. Mardock also seems to prefer standard love and break-up song fare, rather than mysticism and mythology, a Robert Plant standard back in the day. In contrast, second track “Photograph” is much more in line with the Arcade Fire comparison, a mighty, emotional rush with cinematic orchestration in the form of violins and keyboards. About two-thirds of the way through the song, though, the band takes it down again. Rocking the fuck out isn’t necessarily the main objective here.
There’s alt-country sounds in “Hello, Never,” instrumental piano magic on “It Was A Lovely Parade,” and more folky balladry on “Holy,” keeping the pace slow and dreamy for the most part, though some energetic jubilance emerges on “Your Beauty is a Knife I Turn on My Throat.” This is the song, as stated before, which sounds like “Mr. Blue Sky,” and a little like “Oh Yoko!” for that matter, and adds a little bit of a lift to the album, which has fewer upbeat moments than ballads, yet even this song has its moments of dreamlike repose. However, “It’s So Sexy” piles on the sweaty, sexy rock in heaping amounts, just to keep up the high initiated by the previous track.
The bouncy, slow-going barroom piano sounds of “Last Song” makes it one of the most accessible tracks on the album, as well as one of the best. “Heal It/Feel It” curiously recalls the post-punk sounds of Joy Division or the Cure, making it one of the more jagged and riff-heavy tracks on the album, whereas the songs that surround it are far more in line with cigarette lighter waving and sidling up close to your steady. Yet whether rocking out or playing it slow, Eagle*Seagull pulls it off with the skill of seasoned veterans. Still, if indie rock was in need of a make-out record, this might be it.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.