Big Eyes play retro 70s powerpop which, if they’d been around then, would have been a big draw on the stadium circuit. If their new album Streets of the Lost – streaming at Bandcamp – had come out in, say, 1979, it would be considered a classic from that era. Frontwoman/guitarist Kait Eldridge’s hooks are relentlessly catchy, her lyrics are smart and her songs are a lot more imaginative and unpredictable than you typically get in a style that’s been done to death over the decades. Big Eyes are playing the album release show at Union Pool on March 30 at 10 PM; cover is $12.
The album’s first track, Hourglass Two opens with distorted guitars, one track running a catchy minor-key riff, the other a blast of distorted chords. It seems to have an apocalyptic message: “I won’t be around when the trees are falling down,” Eldridge sings, sassily. From there the band could have taken it out with a return to the verse, but instead Eldridge adds a brand new riff. You like good tunesmithing?
Lucky You, a snide dis at a trust fund kid, is a stomping mashup of Cheap Trick, Big Star and the Stones: “Tell me do you ever feel an ounce of shame?” Eldridge asks. Nearly Got Away is slower, with rumbling riffage from Chris Costalupes’ bass behind Eldridge’s spacious guitar snarls and icy chorus-pedal lines. The Upside is over in barely a cynical minute and a half, but not until after a wry twin guitar solo.
After a long space-storm intro, the album’s title track paints a grim but defiant picture of a homeless woman: While you’re at home, or on your phone you can’t ignore me,” Eldridge insists.
“Better watch the clock and ake sure to check the locks,” she reminds in the riff-rocking When Midnight Comes. “Don’t stop to think, just pour me a drink.”
“I can’t get over it, i can read you like Dr. Seuss,” Eldridge sings over drummer Dillan Lazzareschi’s insistent four-on-the-floor beat in Try Hard Kiss Ass, “I don’t like myself when I’m around you.” The band nick a famous Modern Lovers lick for Young Dumb and Bored: “How you never have the time right?” Eldridge wants to know. Her searing guitar solo out could have gone on for another minute or two and nobody would complain.
Making fun of money-grubbing corporate types is like shooting fish in a barrel, but Eldridge gets our her machinegun in the sarcastic At the Top. The album’s final cut, Suddenly Nowhere maintains the hammering, cynical edge. If Cheap Trick, Paul Collins, Suzi Quarto or the Shivvers are your jam, so are Big Eyes. Count this among the two or three best rock releases of 2019 so far.