Water From Your Eyes : Everyone’s Crushed

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Water from your eyes everyone's crushed reviews

Since the arrival of their acclaimed third album, Structure, Brooklyn experimental rock duo Water From Your Eyes have seen their visibility on an upward curve. Their mesmerizing, orchestral single “”Quotations”” earned a spot on our Best of 2021 list, and since then, they’ve been profiled by Rolling Stone, toured with Interpol, and signed with Matador Records. Everyone’s Crushed, their first release for the venerated independent label, largely lives up to these accumulating accolades with some expected growing pains. Much of the record is incredibly engaging, even virtuosic—the result of a rich, years-long collaboration between two musicians who are dedicated to their craft, but allergic to sentimentality and self-seriousness. 

Everyone’s Crushed starts off undeniably strong. After a brief, delicate opener, spangled with glitchy synths that mimic a Spanish guitar, we encounter “Barley,” the album’s jerky, captivating lead single. Vocalist and songwriter Rachel Brown delivers near-nonsense lyrics in a flat speak-sing, before an instrumental break that gathers a fuzzy kind of momentum. Spooky, dissonant guitar phrases give way to a processed, higher-pitched verse that contains a tongue-in-cheek reference to Sting’s “Fields of Gold.” As the song reaches its conclusion, the verse and refrain overlap, adding up to a disorienting but danceable zenith. Like “Out There”—an intriguing pastiche that can’t decide if it wants to be a pulsating club track or a raucous, guitar-driven indie rock number—“Barley” is slippery, shapeshifting and satisfying. 

It’s midway through the album where Everyone’s Crushed‘s foundation grows a little shakier. Brown begins the title track with more deadpan speak-singing (“I’m in love with everyone/and everything hurts… I’m with everyone I hurt/and everything’s love”). They sound matter-of-fact, even bored. Initially, these statements feel refreshingly straightforward—much of Brown’s writing is cryptic and opaque, sometimes collaged together from pre-existing songs. However, as they repeat slight variations of that arresting initial phrase, the lyrics feel stretched a little thin, each repetition seeming to chip away at its meaning. Their often-enchanting vocals skew a little dull here, at least, before producer and instrumentalist Nate Amos chops and garbles them, adding in a stilted beat and a rudimentary, repetitive guitar melody. It produces a jarring, disjointed effect, but perhaps that’s the point—to evoke the feeling of being “crushed” by the task of love, an undertaking that’s often more tedious, perplexing, and awkward than popular music makes it out to be. 

It proves even more challenging to appreciate “True Life,” which in many ways feels like a less sophisticated version of “Barley.” Driven by an abrasive, two-note guitar riff, it likewise oscillates back and forth between a speak-sung refrain and a more melodic, higher-pitched verse, never quite achieving liftoff. Amos and Brown often explore the possibilities of repetition, layering slight variations of phrases, melodies, and textures over the course of songs that defy traditional structure and pacing. Often, this approach yields truly outstanding results—““Quotations”” is one notable example. But on tracks like “True Life,” it begins to push against its limits—in contrast with “Barley,” its repetitive elements don’t quite exceed the sum of their parts, deflated by excessively deadpan delivery and a spare, thinly written bridge.

Everyone’s Crushed makes a marked turnaround in its final few tracks, however; “14” and “Remember Not My Name” are slow-burning and somber, alluding to the disintegration of a close relationship. There’s never quite enough context to be sure—Brown seems wary of relying on narrative, shying away from well-worn signifiers of heartbreak. At one point, they muse: “When was the first time you heard the word ‘saccharine’?” This aside might serve to acknowledge—and deflect—the possible presence of that quality in their own writing. However, the palpable feeling in their vocals, particularly on “14,” brings more gravitas to this pair of tracks. Accompanied by richly arranged strings, Brown sounds earnest and fragile, a potent and welcome shift after several songs’ worth of oblique, challenging soundscapes. Admittedly, much of Everyone’s Crushed can be described this way—it’s not an easy listen, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, the standout songs offer a foothold of some kind to the listener, like a moment of emotional disclosure or unexpected sonic softness. ““Remember Not My Name” and “14” possess both of these qualities, and are stronger for it. 

The final track, “Buy My Product,” is a curveball—coy, provocative, and remarkably catchy. “There are no happy endings/there are only things that happen… buy my product,” Brown sings against a bright, noodly guitar riff. Closing an album with this sentiment is a wry, self-aware move. Water From Your Eyes seem to acknowledge that, in the end, there’s no grand conclusion to be drawn from what they create, because it’s just that: a thing they’re making, largely for the sake of making it. In interviews, the duo have stressed their desire to avoid pretentiousness, as well as a pure sense of enjoyment at the heart of their process. Through years of difficulty and obscurity, they kept grinding, “because it was so much fun for both of us, regardless of the outcome,” Brown has said. As we all know, fun doesn’t pay. But there’s now enough interest in their product to sustain its creative evolution, which is fully visible on Everyone’s Crushed—sometimes arriving at dead ends, and sometimes soaring towards strange, engrossing new heights. 

Label: Matador

Year: 2023

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