“No, no. The Waves. The Waves! Look at that, breaks both ways. Watch. Watch! Look! Those six-foot swells! …See how they break both ways? One guy can break right, one left, simultaneously. …We’ll have this place cleaned up and ready in a jiffy, son. Don’t you worry. …Smell that? You smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”
–Robert Duvall as Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore in Apocalypse Now
After all, “Charlie don’t surf!” And neither does Dallas-duo Eyes, Wings and Many Other Things on their recently released Napalm Beach. What we are introduced to in Sean French and Colin Arnold’s latest outing off Pour Le Corps Records (co-created by French) is surface level experimentation with elements of drone and neo-psych that meander in and out of meter-peaking production. The game has changed, and French and Arnold are strongly influenced by the ambient world of curtailed shatter-scapes reaching for pop acceptance.
Despite their faults, there is promise in their sound–although it either collapses interest in its familiarity with more-pleasant noise acts like Run DMT and Cough Cool or in prompting the listener throw on any incarnation of Sun Araw’s Cameron Stallones. It could be argued that hypnagogic pop like Oneohtrix Point Never’s latest, Replica, institutes a similar structure (albeit a different approach) of ephemeral noise planes that have the ability to cross over to a broader audience in compatibility with our “ADD” generation, but Brightblack Morning Light and Pure X – as well as the aforementioned acts – have already accomplished a more unique sense of the focus Eyes, Wings and Many Other Things reach in the nine tracks comprising Napalm.
That being said, Napalm isn’t a bad listen whatsoever. It’s just nothing new, or exploratory; more of combination of their taste and a reiteration of what should be gracing your speakers in times of devastation and contemplation. “In Crumbles” will find a nice home with fans of Psychocandy, while “Cruelty” and the title-track “Napalm Beach” edge you closer and closer to the nuances of Sun Araw’s production style. The effects and production used in processing the guitars and synths create a shimmering cacophony that almost seems destine for over-modulation. But, the wall of sound template teetering on edge finds relief from the wreckage before aural cataclysm occurs. This is where the band finds promise and truly understands the works of constructive decay exemplified in artists connecting ‘80s shoegaze with neo-psych. “Engulfed” and “Double Rainbow” couple this sensibility with slow-drone warmth creating a necessary light for the traveler approaching the album as a whole. The whispering pan of atmospherics beneath the melodic vocal groans and choppy, delay guitar melody of “Bad Powder” shines the deep psych of their Texas home teasing us with a sound that almost peaks their heads over their contemporaries.
Keep your ears peeled for a tour. Despite having similar traits, Eyes, Wings, and Many Other Things have the live potential to reach an audience untapped by peers with their stylistic convergence and pop-brevity. Let’s just hope they play a warehouse and not a “legal” venue.