It’s only fitting that a band called Eternals would provide a much-needed reminder to take it slowly. Usually here at Vanyaland, we publish a series of single, video, and EP premieres, mostly a reflection of the times, mostly a reflection of not only readers’ attention spans, but also our own. We like the now, we like the next; we like to then look ahead during the “now” and take it for granted in a never-ending quest to discover just what exactly is awaiting down the road. We move along, further and faster, attention fixated ahead on the endless highway of content, without ever giving a glance to what we’re passing. And then it’s gone for good, because, frankly, rear-view mirrors do not exist in 2016.
Eternals‘ sophomore album, Isn’t That Anyone, puts the brakes on that frantic pace. The Somerville quartet’s latest effort — out Friday with its release party the following night (June 25) at Great Scott in Allston alongside Abadabad and Dirty Bangs — is a record’s record; the kind that is not only purchased on vinyl, but consumed with vinyl’s deliberate effect and attention to detail.
“We put a lot of effort into making this album a fluid listening experience,” says Eternals’ multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Stephen Konrads. “There are tiny songs and other ear candy tucked in between tracks. Each step of making the record was incredibly collaborative and healthy, and we’re very excited to share it with people.”
The band’s intelligent, atmospheric Americana has been coalescing since their 2014 debut LP. Since then, a pair of 2015 singles (“There Might Be Fire”, and Isn’t That Anyone album cut “Out Of Context”) helped set the mood for the new record; sounds of indie-prog and modern folk shining out of the FM speakers that went silent two decades ago. Opener “Raised By Wolves” is the road-trip track that gives the strength to carry forward as life doubt sets in on the Mass Pike headed west, while album standout “Affirmation I” is the slow-build tension release you knew Eternals had inside them, usually bubbling just under the surface but never blossoming in full sonic bloom.
Eternals’ new album forces the listener to look around. Konrads’ long-gone bar-room and lounge balladry sound like smoky tales of life and relationships of days gone by, the efforts of past decisions and actions weighting heavily in an empty room of nothing but a chair, a drink, and record player. At times, Isn’t That Anyone shifts its sonic reach like a soundtrack (middle cut “Bar Room Dancing” is its own scene of personal flashbacks, and could retrospectively be the best single of 1977), but is unified by some common songwriting traits and an underlying connection of aural hypnosis. The album is dense but featherweight, a physical left-right look in an age of “straight ahead”, and the Eternals team of Konrads, bassist Wayne Whittaker, drummer Harrison Seiler, and guitarist Eric Bolton exhibit a trusting chemistry.
“Dont give up, take it slowly,” Konrads gently sings in “Original Sin”. He may not know where he’s headed, but he knows where he is. Pour a glass, flick on the record player, and listen to Isn’t That Anyone below.