For the first radical change in its recording career, Died Pretty decamped to Los Angeles to be produced by Jeff Eyrich, veteran boardsman for such roots rock acts as the Blasters and T-Bone Burnett. There's a change in the band as well -- founding member Frank Brunetti departed, leaving the keyboards to new guy, John Hoey, while Steve Clark took over bass duties from Mark Lock. The end result was a refocusing of the band around Brett Myers' guitar work, with Hoey providing shade more than anything else, while the songs themselves had a slightly cleaner -- dare it be said, more radio friendly? -- feeling to them. It isn't unsuccessful by any means, but it's not quite the same band as before, with a touch more conventional American heartland rock to their sound. Ron S. Peno's vocals sound fuller and richer -- not a minus in the slightest, of course! -- and the band can more easily be imagined at a good local bar stateside. This all said, there's real drama and threat on Every Brilliant Eye, ensuring that Died Pretty are in no danger of approaching mainstream banality. The slow burn of "The Underbelly" is a great example of the band's continuing powers, with the Clark/Chris Welsh rhythm section providing some strong body slams, Hoey's piano appropriately forceful, and Peno's vocals at their considerable best. Then there's "True Fools Fall," a simply lovely number with a great synth arrangement with, once again, Peno nailing it. The group can still get out a good energetic rocker or two as they go -- single "Whitlam Square" is just fierce enough, while "Prayer" is a slamming, active romp, with a great Peno vocal and searing Myers solo to go with it. Guest performers assist once more, notably fine violinist/The Black Watch member J'anna Jacoby -- check out her excellent work on "Face Toward the Sun" -- but it's all down to the band, and they come through once more.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett