Despite the name, Eternal Summers are not a Fennesz cover band. Instead, the glitches they’re working with are the interstices between 80s and 90s alt-rock and indie pop (you’ve got to wonder what was on the mixtape exclusive from the album’s Pledgemusic crowdfunder; and as if that weren’t mystery enough, there was a mystery box!). The Drop Beneath takes their sound in a direction both more eclectic and more shoegazy than 2011’s excellent Correct Behavior, even occasionally straying into jangle-Cure territory.
The group know their way around a hook. The first three tracks in particular drive the listener on an addictive and affective explosion, a slow-motion car-crash retro-engineered to lifespeed. It’s hard to believe how they just keep pulling them out (or perhaps that should be “sinking them in”) track after track, but this also lends the album a certain monotony at times, and there’s nothing to quite match Correct Behavior’s “You Kill.”
The faster numbers are both propulsive and have that understated yet majestic undercurrent of emotional engagement that one — well, this one — is always looking for when surveying the overcrowded noise-pop field. The band eschew the too-easy single-song boy-girl vocal dynamic to interesting effect: drummer Daniel Cundiff is employed as vocalist on the occasional track that alternate with Nicole Yun’s album lead, shattering previously-built expectations in fragments that reflect the album’s brittle-yet-deep-cutting emotionality.
It’s in the question of drawn-out-ness that The Drop Beneath doesn’t quite match its predecessor: both some of the slower pieces and the length of the album itself could have been pared back to more incisive effect. The lyrics are at times embedded in fuzz, but when they emerge, while showcasing Yun’s voice soaring toward the Fraser-esque (what is that shape in the sky?) and dipping into cooler waters, the words themselves seem a little more clichéd than of yore, as they explore darker themes through the clearer lens of Doug Gillard’s production.
The question then is: the drop beneath what? And here we have various facets of an answer.