In the mid-’00s, anything with enough lo-fi, in-the-red noise could make a splash. At times it became difficult to pick out which record came from which band, and what genre was sitting underneath all of that fuzz. As that trend faded, the bands that stuck around either continued to champion the noise or pulled it back to reveal their core. Portland’s Eat Skull tends toward the latter with their third album, appropriately titled III, with Rob Enborn’s garage hooks and throaty vocals spun closer into focus.
Rod Meyer explained to Impose Magazine that after constant reworking and re-recording, it took Eat Skull four years to put together III . That process ended with a year of rest in California and a release through Woodsist Records, though that’s not to say you should be expecting breezy warmth. The lyrics of opening track “Space Academy” feature “loving this cacophony” and “flipping over cars,” all over a loping guitar chug. The track begs for a Breakfast Club Judd Nelson fist-raise exit. Later, the sunny stream of guitar on “Dead Horses” leads to a chorus which discusses “watching dead horses decompose.”
The two halves of III frequently war, the pleasantly shambling rhythms consistently undermined by Enborn’s just off-key yawling on viscerally unusual topics, as well as the occasional genre shift. The synths and bouncing bass on “How Do I Know When To Say Goodbye” produce an aloof bit of tropicalia. Acoustic strumming, whispered noise, and clattering percussion on “They Burned You” yield an iced over beach party. Peeling away part of the lo-fi barrier from Eat Skull reveals that they’re exactly as difficult as they’d seemed, just for different reasons. They’re too busy moving around and looking at weird shit to fit things together into a map, leading you blindfolded down their weird tunnel.
Essential Tracks: “Dead Horses”, “Space Academy”