Eisley, the indie pop quintet from Texas, appeared in mid-2003 when they introduced their first EP, Laughing City. Six EPs and two albums later, Eisley released their third full-length album, The Valley last Tuesday.
Known for lyrical imagination and the soaring sweetness of harmonics, Eisley has explored the emotional spectrum. The saccharine nostalgia of Room Noises ended abruptly with Combinations: an experimental dabbling into darker territory, bitterness and melodrama. Likewise, the release of its newest project, The Valley, shows that the band is still growing and consolidating previous musical approaches. Eisley uses this album to cast off the girlish charms of earlier albums by featuring vocalist Stacy Dupree’s smokier soprano on more tracks than her sister Sherri. This level of maturity extends to the album’s themes, and produces a more sophisticated and autumnal vibe.
The first track, “The Valley,” shares the dark dreaminess of the Hush Sound’s opener on Goodbye Blues. A disenchanted reach from the playful imagery of Room Noises, the album escalates into indignation with “Smarter.” Perhaps the punchiest track of the bunch, “Smarter” is the empowered confession of a wounded lover which plays with radio vocal effects and harder guitars.
Some middle tracks including “Watch it Die” and “Sad” revert to lyrical clichés about bleeding hearts and lines like “I feel sad.” Other songs showed more promise. “Kind” is a soft ballad of unintrusive piano, acoustic guitar and idyllic string arrangements that gives the sensation of being alone with a lover. “Please” is an interesting track that includes uncharacteristic midline repetitions and a perfect balance of drama and control.
Overall, The Valley will please fans of the older albums but takes the softer sadder turn of a band that grows older and wiser every day.