Eisley

Combinations

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Eisley gets more ambitious with each EP and album, as well they should: Combinations is the band's second album, but they recorded it when they were barely in their twenties -- a time when growth and change aren't just natural, they're required. This set of songs reflects Eisley's evolution; they sound more grown-up and maybe a shade less playful than Room Noises and the band's EPs, but they keep the uniqueness that made Eisley worth hearing in the first place. Combinations gets off to a literally rocky start with "Many Funerals," which begins with a moody sea shanty-like melody that swells into charging choruses. It's the heaviest, angstiest Eisley song yet, and though it borders on overwrought, it shows the depth and breadth the band brings to their music this time around. The brooding, guitar-heavy feel continues, albeit in very different ways, on "Invasion"'s dark pop and on "A Sight to Behold," which finds the DuPree sisters questioning their sanity to a backdrop of pizzicato strings and distorted beats. The DuPrees' vocals and melodies remain Eisley's greatest, most unique strengths. The harmonies the sisters craft could've appeared on songs from decades ago (and sound especially sweet on the deceptively beguiling "Go Away"), while "I Could Be There for You"'s traditional-sounding tune is even more striking when set to a very contemporary arrangement. The album's eclectic-yet-cohesive feel spans the polished, poppy "Taking Control" and gorgeous "Ten Cent Blues" to the elegant ballad "If You're Wondering" (which boasts chimes, kalimba, and a rainstorm) and the title track, which with its lavish arrangement and fairy tale sweep, almost sounds like a Top 40-friendly version of Joanna Newsom. Eisley's mix of old and new, and accessible and unexpected, makes their music utterly charming, and Combinations is a blend of bewitching contradictions.

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