Are Eternal Summers Too Dreamy for Their Own Good?
Every Day It Feels Like I'm Dying is a record that barely redeems its cautious nature with its slightly varied instrumentation.
Every Day It Feels Like I'm Dying...
4 May 2018
Eternal Summers are too dreamy for their own good. This disposition leads the Roanoke-based band on a path toward a very cloudy youthfulness, one so thick that it's in danger of being smothering. If it were not for the slightly varying instrumentation, Every Day It Feels Like I'm Dying… would be an album that is too sugar-coated, to the point where it is smothering. It is a combination of vocalist Nicole Yun's reserved nature, her vocals which are too pleasant for their own good, and, at times, her lyrics that sway into really uninteresting ground. Listeners become settled in an album that is extremely safe, with plastic wrap over anything that could be interpreted as dangerous.
The instrumental turns the album takes are what make it slightly redeemable. When avoiding dream pop, Yun and Jonathan Woods' strings employ a more folk mood to the arsenal. The moments of looking at stars until the eyes burn out temporarily vanish in favor of depth. Even a track that simply dabbles in indie pop are more salvageable than the majority of the politeness in the record. The synths are too clean and the guitar riffs too simple. A puff of air can break the sensitive skin of Every Day…. Shyness can be a strength—Frankie Cosmos is a good example—however, it leaves Eternal Summers struggling because it is the only mode they have.
There are highlights to this teddy bear-like softness. "Famous Last Words" talks of a "floating quasar" in such a beauteous way, standing out from the artificiality with its imagery. There is no wordplay, yet listeners hardly hear of such a phenomenon within a track. This is the song that brings a sensation akin to making a wish upon a star—it is a child-like wonder at its best.
"Contenders" drifts away slightly from this wonder, instead having the strength of confidence. Yun's guitar plays an active role through a solo, despite it being nearly casual and too simple. The band can add layers to its vocals by virtue of having a much more involved instrumentation. "Possibilities", in all its Sarah McLachlan-like glory, attempts this as it slowly strays away from its peaceful introspective atmosphere. It attempts to hit a peak but stops to return to a calmer route, as if the band were scared of what it might be like to reach the pinnacle.
The odd one out in the record is the most telling track. "Oblivious" fashions itself as a '90s rock band's song of youth angst. There is a more dirty and riskier grime added to the band. However, had any other rock band perform "Oblivious", it would be such a stale number amongst the other tough rock sounds. It is by virtue of how strange it fits that makes it stand out. It is only palatable because it easily avoids the safer previous bits of the album.
Despite all these flaws about how safe the album plays itself, much like a double-edged sword, there is a benefit. At 40 minutes, Every Day… can have a place in the hearts of those who admire beauteous simplicity. It is easy to settle in to "Master of It All" because it has a folk charm attached to its caution. When "Forever Mine" introduces itself with very energetic strings, there is a positivity that is charming. The image of a mother watching their child walk their first steps on the horizon resonates with the instrumentation of the closer "All That I Adore".
The safety of Eternal Summers' sound hinders it from extending the depth of their reluctance to life. Every Day It Feels Like I'm Dying… is an album that does not need to improve its kinks but its overall presence. It is easy to swoop an audience filled with those that want safety: it is the matter of capturing their hearts and the hearts of ones wanting risk that needs discovering.