When functioning in a genre as varied and vague as “post-rock,” there’s an obligation to create something unique– after all, this is where your art is placed when what you do is too weird to play nicely in the indie-rock sandbox. Unfortunately, Frightened, the debut full-length release from Easter Island, fails to capture the musical grandeur or experimental nature the genre is known for, which can really sound like anything, so long as it’s either really big or really weird.
But Frightened is caught between two worlds, possessing both a desire to be a catchy indie album as well as a compulsion towards the world of delayed guitars and free-form compositions. The moments of the album that stand out are those in which either side of this duality are exaggerated.
For example, the hook-laden “Ginger” makes for one of the strongest indie-rock moments of the album, and while the track shares the dreamy guitars and spacious reverb of the more experimental bits, the structure is very standard. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we find the instrumental “Laika”, a majestic track painted with lush, ethereal guitars and blooming dynamics that could be easily pawned off as a missing Explosions in the Sky B-side. However, these tracks are the highlights of an album that is relatively unmemorable as a whole.
The problem with straddling genres is that if you fail to create an original sound, the two different sides fighting for harmony tend to water each other down. A song like “Hash” sees the band’s underdeveloped indie-pop song writing juxtaposed against a dream-pop backdrop that never gives up an “ah-ha” moment, and the lack of substance from either style yields an unsatisfying listening experience. It leaves you wanting to to listen to a record that provides greatness in either genre.
The pill would be easier swallowed if not compounded by an overly deliberate vocal delivery that grates after a few songs. Those vocals serve up average lyrical fare about girls, other girls, girls in t-shirts– things we can relate to, but nothing to really connect with. When you consider the depth of greatness available in the post-rock and indie-pop worlds currently, Easter Island’s debut simply doesn’t measure up, regardless of the record’s beautiful production aesthetic. More attention to substance and less time spent tweaking delay pedals would benefit Easter Island’s effort to claim an identity.
Essential Tracks: ”Ginger”