Under His Eye — the new, self-titled EP from the Brooklyn project of the same name — delivers a deeply compelling journey of “chamber punk,” blending punk rock sensibilities with the trappings of orchestral music.
Sizable portions of the music feature marvelously flourishing non-traditional instrumentation. Brass instrumentation makes an appearance, as do orchestral strings, and these poignant elements help push the emotional urgency in the music to powerful heights. Combining the raw melodies and anxious, harsh vocals with the rather majestic instrumentation spotlights an undercurrent of chest-clutching pain that underlies even life’s brightest moments. The melodies feel compassionate and honest, but the music feels unflinching in its assessment of the turmoil. There’s no getting around it.
Sometimes, the vocal style feels reminiscent of the kind of emotionally-pained yet formidably harsh spoken word cadence used by singers like Jordan Dreyer from La Dispute. Track two, called “Take Heed,” weaves these desperation-wracked, anxious vocals into a cathartically crescendoing portrait of desperately and relentlessly reaching for some kind of security, even if getting metaphorically bloody in the process. Some of the lyrics on that track aptly capture the somberly reflective mood: “You’re the one that cut us down, stripped us bare ’til we’re nothing now. You’re gonna leave us all to drown.”
Repeatedly, hard-hitting drum and guitar melodies build alongside clashing, ominously lurking orchestral elements, and besides the contrast of an undercurrent of tension alongside the brighter musical components, the non-traditional elements also help expand that core feeling of tension. The music feels grippingly immersive.
Besides the surging non-traditional elements, the music also repeatedly features melodies that, while tense, offer a lot of breathing room, as if really capturing a moment of heaving cries when confronting a moment of loss. “To The Grave” closes out with some of these majestically broad melodies, as the anthemic refrain rolls out: “Out of my mouth, out of my hands, out of my control.”
The music feels like it offers a hand amidst chaos. The sonically-expressed pain doesn’t vanish, but neither does the relentless and raw emotional determination captured in the persistently surging songs. The album closes with a gentle, banjo-led segment of choral singing, and the impression of a relentless drive towards the light feels inescapable. The subtly triumphant punk feeling shines brightly.
Listen to Under His Eye below!