Eat Skull

III

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Portland, Oregon noise pop crusties Eat Skull return with their third and most considered volume of lo-fi scuzz rock. III was assembled over the course of four years, drawing on the influence of equal parts early Guided by Voices-style home recording magic and the band's own metalhead upbringing. The album's murky pop is buried in sheets of texture, bearing some passing similarities to labelmates like Woods or White Fence while keeping something decidedly more congruous with their misty Pacific Northwestern surroundings. Songs like "How Do You Know When to Say Goodnight?" and "Dead Horses" stand out, capturing the same triumphant noise-pop spirit of early New Zealand indie acts, or maybe an extremely lo-fidelity Go-Betweens demo cassette. While Eat Skull's albums have always held up the tin foil-sounding lo-fi aesthetic, they've done more than just haphazardly thrown a cheap microphone up in the practice space to get those sounds. With III, the band's instrumentation and mastery of their home-recorded sounds expands to create their most colorful album to date. The ominous synthesizer gurgles that open "Stupid Moon" set a bedding for deliriously melodic guitar lines and singer Rob Enbom's half-spoken and entirely demented lyrical poetry. Later on, tracks like "Summer Inside" and "Amnesty Box" take a turn toward clearer acoustic instruments with noisy elements just barely peaking through, sounding like the Verlaines of Felt practicing in a misty basement on a particularly rainy day. The lived-in feeling of the songs walks hand in hand with a warm friendliness, even in the weirdest segments of the album. Eat Skull's sometimes paranoid, sometimes lovestruck, sometimes banal musings on III seem to come from a place of patient, observant, and honest songwriting. Ultimately, even layers of fuzzy noise and fully saturated weirdness can't obscure the band's hooks or their unique pop perspective.

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