Reflecting On: Eisley – Room Noises

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During 2015, we’re going to be looking back on some of the best albums that were released 10 years ago and discussing their legacy. Feel free to share your thoughts and memories in the replies. Enjoy!

Contrary to what you might think, Eisley didn’t catch lightning in a bottle with their debut full-length album Room Noises. As fledging and fresh as the album feels, that release was the result of hard work and perseverance, developed from years of touring and refining their sound. Even after several years of grinding, Eisley still possessed an eager pep and sense of wonder.

Leading up to the release of Room Noises, the Tyler, Texas, indie pop band, comprised of the sisters DuPree (Sherri, Stacy, Chauntelle), cousin Weston and friend Jon Wilson, had already begun to make their mark. A few well-received EPs and a building local buzz led to a record deal with Warner Bros. and an opening slot on Coldplay’s Rush of Blood to the Head Tour. By the time the band dropped their anticipated debut, more than a few ears were already standing at attention.

What’s incredible about Room Noises isn’t just that the album met expectations or cemented Eisley as one of the most creative indie acts around, but that it’s simplicity and effortless enthusiasm still resonates a decade later. An effort that would serve as a building block for later lauded releases such as The Valley and Currents, Room Noises possesses a charm and distinct innocence that sets it apart from the band’s other records.

At its core, Room Noises is about love, imagination and youth. Even the album’s more somber moments are lifted by the beautiful harmonies of Sherri, Stacy and Chauntelle. In their later work, the trio would find more subtle moments to let their harmonies shine, but on Room Noises, they fly free and often, adding a dream-like feel to tracks like “Memories” and “One Day I Floated Away”.

Musically, the album leans on pop sensibilities, but the band isn’t afraid to let their rock side show when the situation calls for it. Sherri’s guitar tones on breakout single “Telescope Eyes” add a dark overlay to the song before Stacy’s keys take over during the opening verse. As Sherri sings, “I wonder, why can’t you see / You’re just not near enough like me / With your telescope eyes, metal teeth / I can’t be seen with you” it serves as the ambiguous build for the song’s melodic chorus.

This vague imagery pervades Room Noises, offering moments of hazy beauty, such as the eerie “Marvelous Things”, which finds Stacy singing the peculiar opening lines of, “I woke the dawn / Saw horses growing out the lawn”. “Lost at Sea” captures the album’s drifting imagery well, intertwining it with peacefulness as Sherri sings, “And I’m not so afraid / Lost at sea, as I should be / And I’m not so afraid / Lost at sea, you and I, you and me”.

Other high points on the album include the ghostly chorus of “I Wasn’t Prepared” and the gentle pop rock drive of “My Lovely”. There are no weak points to be found on Room Noises, as the album moves at its own pace, unraveling each story with patience and delight. These noises aren’t meant to scare – instead, they’re catalysts for exciting exploration and wonder.

As the years following the release of Room Noises passed, the harsh realities of difficult life experiences and circumstances would lead Eisley in a much more blunt direction, culminating in 2011’s The Valley. That album, as adult and mature as Room Noises is innocent and youthful, captures the painful trials that come with adulthood and shares the story of how we overcome. It may very well be the band’s high-water mark, even as it sheds much of the band’s innocence, making their journey that much more real and authentic.

On “Brightly Wound”, the DuPree sisters join in singing, “I shall never grow up / Make believe is much too fun / Can we go far away to the humming meadow”. It’s the sentiment of many a child and the memory of many an adult. The unfortunate truth is that pain and disappointment are inevitabilities in this life; no matter how hard we wish them away.

Nevertheless, we’re always invited back to that place of peace, even as the pain passes. If nothing else, it certainly makes life’s bumps and knocks in the night just a little less scary.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

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