It’s not hard to trace a spiritual lineage from garage rock and early punk to the bedroom production scene, and few artists make that link as clear as Eyedress (Idris Vicuña), a creator with a distinctly witty DIY style. His lo-fi beats are a mellifluous mix of crisp, fuzzy, and buoyant, a well-balanced sonic complement to clever, contemporary-feeling lyrics and breathy, slightly disaffected delivery. New album Full Time Lover is no exception, a package of 28 idiosyncratic tracks densely packed with reverb, distortion, and guest spots that make for a constantly zigzagging assemblage of daring, dreamy electropop. Nosaj Thing, Chad Hugo, Na-Kel Smith, The Drums, and Tim Koh make up just a tiny sampling of the featured talent here.
To be clear, this is, for the most part, not an album of punk rock per se. The forward-facing, nonconformist spirit, though, is unmistakable. Hefty bass, sharp drums, and full-bodied synths drive plugged-in tracks like “Try Another Time” and “Don’t Suffer” with a raw energy that feels fresh and unpretentious even while evoking the classic sounds of new wave. Conversely, “Uncomfortable”, “Smoke and Mirrors”, and “R&B Love” are among the more overtly modern tracks—autotuned crooning and near-mumble rap over stripped-down, low-key trap beats—but there’s more to them as Eyedress lays down borderline dissonant chords and off-kilter rhythmic accents that give them depth and texture.
Sex, drugs, and rock and roll are all prominent in lyrics across Full Time Lover. The love song “Spaghetti”, a collaboration with producer HOMESHAKE, offers tongue-in-cheek practicality that speaks to quotidian romance (“Baby girl, I need you / To make me spaghetti for the rest of my life”). “Dream Dealer” deals with quick cures for heartbreak (“Feels like I’m losing a friend / Call up my dealer again”), while “Shrooms in Disneyland” offers a lighter take on the joys of mind-altering substances. Eyedress doesn’t mince words about police on tracks like “Break the Law”, “2 Headed Goat”, and “I Don’t Dial 911”, the latter one of the album’s hardest rockers, driven by ferocious bass and furious vocals. It’s a classic combination of themes, and Eyedress makes them feel relevant without sounding entirely jaded.
It would be a stretch to interpret every moment as an ironic take on pop. Plenty of cuts here are played straight, filling in the album with music that is simply cool, if sometimes unremarkable. “Facts” and “Famous” are fine odes to money-making aspirations, and they show how in tune Eyedress is with the current production zeitgeist. They aren’t necessarily meant to be standouts and don’t do much to show off Eyedress’s most interesting sensibilities. Still, they’re high-quality indie work, and that’s worth plenty in and of itself.
Perhaps the key takeaway from Full Time Lover, as with every Eyedress album, is that even the most minimal of sonic palettes has plenty of room for play. This music takes up-to-date pop sensibilities and keeps them moving in new ways that are not just creatively fruitful but genuinely fun. Eyedress isn’t taking himself too seriously, but he still manages to make seriously exceptional music, which takes considerable skill.