is anybody breathing? – eagleowl lp


lethargic pop. that’s how eagleowl like to describe themselves. i’m not so sure.

yes, you can argue that it applies to their workrate – after all their debut l.p. ‘this silent year’ comes a full four and a half years after their debut e.p.

and you might get the impression from their music initially that it is lethargic as it’s almost always slow and restrained.

but i’m prepared to go out on a limb and argue that, in fact, there’s nothing lethargic abut eagleowl at all.

for me lethargy implies not just doing things slowly but also a lack of purpose. and eagleowl are to my mind not lacking in purpose in any way. on the contrary they’re bristling with intent. well, bristling may be overstating things but even though they’re relaxed about how long it takes to get to the point, get to the point they invariably do.

something like ‘not over’ makes the point perfectly.  a languid vocal delivery and some keening strings create that lethargic vibe. yet for all its pedestrian pace it still reaches a lovely climax.

in fact gentle crescendos are a feature of the l.p., most notably on the epic showstopper ‘too late in the day’ which roars in a way that eagelowl have done before – but not often.

having released a couple of e.p.s and a single before recording the album eagleowl have faced the problem of how much older material to put on the record. by choosing just the one ‘old’ tune they’ve very much put faith in their new material.

and by selecting ‘laughter’ (the b-side to ‘sleep the winter’ – their only b-side in fact) they’ve hardly gone for the obvious choice. yet it pays off and placing it immediately after ‘too late …’ is a stroke of genius as it works as a perfect closer to the album after the previous noisefest.

my ‘problem’ with ‘slow’ l.p.s is how they manage to differentiate between songs if pacing is largely removed. yet there’s no such problem with ‘this silent year’. egleowl may consistently favour slow but it’s never a problem (and never their only option).  so they can shift between the cliff richard apeing ‘it’s so funny’ (as close as the album comes to a conventional pop song) through the brooding ‘not over’ to the almost jaunty instrumental ‘soft process’. another key variant is the length of the songs ranging from under two minutes of ‘soft process’ to over 12 minutes of ‘too late’.

writing about the l.p. after it has been out for a wee while, I feel like I’ve been forced almost into eagleowl cliches such as lovely and gorgeous. yes, everyone may be saying this sort of thing but there’s a very good reason for that. because that’s exactly what ‘this silent year’ is.

the video for ‘not over’: