Eyeless in Gaza

Back from the Rains

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The final Eyeless in Gaza release before the duo's temporary split, Back From the Rains builds on the pop sense of Rust Red September excellently. Beginning with the brief a cappella piece "Between These Dreams," Bates' vocals treated with a bit of a hollow-room sound that creates some subtly effective drama, the duo shifts into the bright, almost straightforward glow of "Twilight," a fine representation of the album as a whole. It's a bit much to say that Back From the Rains is the pinnacle of the band's aiming toward a neo-Duran Duran/Tears for Fears modern pop triumph, but there's no question that it's a long way from Photographs As Memories. Yet the irony is that little about the duo's approach actually changed -- art rather than commerce dominates, and for all that Bates almost lets his vocals verge into total histrionics at points, he still has that sweet, wistful quality in his voice that suggests gentle calm more than anything else. He and Becker, as always, make an excellent team, the latter surrounding the former's vocal and guitar parts with detailed, energetic arrangements and overdubs. "Catch Me" and the soul-touched "Welcome Now" may have straight-up rhythms for once, but it's still a meta-pop of the kind that could chart high but never does. Comparisons could be made to the Cocteau Twins at their most straightforward, a slightly less obscure John Foxx, but it's all Eyeless in Gaza's own particular vision. Even the simpler approaches, like the barely there production touches on the otherwise vocal-and-guitar combination of "Lie Still, Sleep Long," work wonders. Add in a wonderful version of the folk traditional "She Moves Through the Fair" that gives Bates another music-less chance to the shine and the result is a total winner. The CD version includes, in a slightly odd backtrack, the entirety of the New Risen EP.

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