Animal Eyes Meet Their Psychedelic Match With Hazy Virtuosity

By Brody Coronelli - Link: Twitter

Indie-pop has an established sound as of now. Balmy, folkish acoustic guitars, angular melodies, prominent electronics, and light-hearted temperament have come to frame the sound in it’s standard form, and bands like Vance Joy, Of Monsters and Men, Foals, and Foster The People have come to encompass it. However, when an artistic standard is formed, it begs to be expanded. That’s where Animal Eyes come in.


Based in Portland, Oregon, Animal Eyes debuted in 2011 with the eclectic and rushing Found In The Forest: an album that embodied a quirky and folk-driven style of indie-rock that wasn’t necessarily distinct, but bewitching nonetheless. As bands do, Animal Eyes’ sound evolved as they slowly embraced psychedelia more and more. They simply dipped their feet in on their 2013 EP Ursus: an album that stepped more into the ‘rock’ archetype. However, on their sophomore full-length Where We Go, the band seems to have found a home in psychedelia.


The first teaser from this album was “Mushroom Hunter”, a song released last July. A trippy indie-rock affair, the song utilizes syncopated guitar leads and rhythms, fluttering vocal harmonies, dreamlike synthesizers, and layered production to convey a ‘60s-nostalgic sound that resembled the band really coming into their own. For the most part, “Mushroom Hunter” is an adequate teaser of what to expect on Where We Go: a twisted, layered, instrumentally diverse, and psychedelic rendition of indie-pop.


“Zeke-Wizard”, a Flaming Lips-reminiscent track, constantly transitions between horn sections, drum machines, synthesizers, and traditional rock ‘n’ roll voicings to express a charming and layered expression of psychedelia. Flaming Lips influence, particularly from 2002’s Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, appears frequently on this album, showing up again on the title track “Where We Go”. Similarly, “Born In A Blaze” rides on waves of soaring vocal harmonies, virtuosic acoustic guitar leads, accordions, and hazy production. Many of these tracks involve a lot of a pieces, and when they fit together, they really fit. Songs like the rock-flavored “Una” and the acoustic driven “Guava” tune the instrumental prolificness down a bit, embracing a traditional rock frame and syncopating it alongside off-kilter grooves until it makes your head spin.


On Where We Go, Animal Eyes have given indie-pop a kind of Pet Sounds twist, stretching it to it’s limits and filling the cracks with a charming dose of psychedelia. This seems necessary in a time where bands in their vein are beginning to sound like more of the same. The album harnesses elements of ‘60s psychedelia, modern indie-rock, and Flaming Lips-level experimentation to create a sound that’s hazy while also virtuosic. Will other acts in their scene take note? Only time will tell.


Score: 8/10


Listen to: “Zeke-Wizard”, “Mushroom Hunter” and “Alligator Sex”