Album Of The Week

Album Of The Week: Water From Your Eyes Everyone’s Crushed


“There are no happy endings/ There are only things that happen.” If you’re looking for an encapsulation of Water From Your Eyes’ whole burnt-out ethos, look no further than “Buy My Product,” the insistent closing track from Everyone’s Crushed, the duo’s fifth overall album but first for Matador Records. After years in the trenches, Nate Amos and Rachel Brown’s winking, sardonic recording project has landed at an institutionalized label. And while one might believe that becoming part of such an esteemed roster represents the start of a new chapter, Water From Your Eyes know better than that. Any form of success is just another opportunity for failure. There are no happy endings. That’s why they’re begging: “Buy my product!” Like, engage, subscribe — maybe that catchy tune will help them pay the bills.

Though they might seem like new kids on the block to those less attuned to the underbelly of the Brooklyn DIY scene, Amos and Brown have been making music together since 2016, when they first met in Chicago. They started dating; they broke up after a move to New York City, but they continued making music. That messy origin story feels fitting for the sort of music that they make: dismantled pop songs, ones that find something transcendent in the rubble. They make music on their own — Amos as This Is Lorelai, Brown as Thanks For Coming — but what ties them to each other is a desire to confound.

Water From Your Eyes’ early discography is littered with half-formed ideas and experiments that don’t totally work, but something shifted with 2018’s Somebody Else’s Song. It felt like they had started to take their music — and by extension any sort of career that might come from it — a little more seriously, and among their intriguing deconstructions some real songs started to emerge, like the bittersweetly hypnotic “Adeline.” With Structure (one of the best albums of 2021), they continued to plant a flag in both directions, becoming both more hooky and more abstract.

Structure is the first album we’ve ever been entirely happy with,” Amos said at the time. “We think it successfully captures the odd juxtaposition of seriousness and lightheartedness that’s always been at the core of Water From Your Eyes.” That dichotomy was on forceful display with tracks like “My Love’s,” which alternates between abrasive and sickly sweet, and the dueling “Quotations,” presented in two flavors on Structure: one mechanically raw, the other humanistically yearning.

Structure came along with a whole conceit, where each half of it was meant to be reflective of the other. There’s no such framework here, at least not one that they’ve made explicit. The album was handed into their new label fully-formed, culled together from the many different pathways that they had tried out over the years. If anything, Everyone’s Crushed is a tougher nut to crack than Structure. That one at least had satisfying breakdowns, where all the built-up tension would dissipate into a static of white noise. This new one is more dissonant and disparate. There are more guitars, mangled and strangled into off-putting shapes. There’s roiling percussion, trilling synthesizers, feedback pulled into something nearing harmony. Sometimes they lock into a groove, but more often than not they purposefully make it hard to get settled into a song, to the point where you start to get uncomfortable in your own skin. Not many of these songs would pop on a playlist, though “Barley” is the closest they’ve come to making something that might reasonably go down well at a party. The same could be said of “True Life,” another early single, whose skronks and atypical rhythms make it into something too catchy to ignore.

But in the space surrounding those two slightly more conventional tracks, Water From Your Eyes dig more into the abstract side of their sound. The songs on Everyone’s Crushed can be slippery, but there’s a lot of beauty to be found in the scatterbrained mayhem. Though there’s an impishness to a lot of their music, there’s also a real sense of vulnerability. They set out to make the weirdest stuff that they can, but they do so sincerely. Brown’s delivery can be a bit dead-eyed, but purposefully so — a necessary anchor in songs that twist themselves into knots. “Out There” ends on a spew of nonsense words atop agitated drums, but they also manage to slip in some lines about a character that aches with nostalgia: “She plays the piano/ She bought it at the mall/ All my best friends lost out here on the sprawl.” The lyrics can be ambiguous, but they have feeling. The album’s title track might be itchy, queasy, unrelentingly restless — but its central refrain, which Brown cycles through different permutations, is painfully raw: “I’m with everyone I love and everything hurts.”

A few weeks ago, I finally saw Water From Your Eyes live for the first time. I was a little nervous about how the songs, which benefit from so much studio trickery, would translate on stage. It wasn’t a seamless transition — sometimes the songs would get away from the band, who were playing as a trio — but it was mostly invigorating, and for me it unlocked some deeper understanding of their music, mainly that the anxiety that courses through so many of their songs is a reflection of how fucking hard it can be to be alive. Toward the end of the set, Brown went off-script and talked to the audience about their current crisis of navigating the health care marketplace as a musician. It can seem cool: playing to a sold-out room, getting the opportunity to see the world for the first time. But none of that is going to just let you live your life. It just takes and takes. Everyone’s crushed.

Everyone’s Crushed is out 5/26 via Matador Records.

Other albums of note out this week:

• Shirley Collins’ Archangel Hill
• Sparks’ The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte
• Clark’s Sup Dog
• Gia Margaret’s Romantic Piano
• Kevin Morby’s More Photographs (A Continuum)
• Kassa Overall’s Animals
• Miya Folick’s Roach
• Incendiary’s Change The Way You Think About Pain
• MoneyBagg Yo’s Hard To Love
• Radiator Hospital’s Can’t Make Any Promises
• Stuck’s Freak Frequency
• Lil Durk’s Almost Healed
• Entry’s Exit Interview
• Matthew Herbert’s The Horse
• Arlo Parks’ My Soft Machine
• Wolf Eyes’ Dreams In Splattered Lines
• AJJ’s Disposable Everything
• Daniel Blumberg’s GUT
• Stimmerman’s Undertaking
• Joni Void’s Everyday Is The Song
• Alex Anwandter’s El diablo en el cuerpo
• The Dirty Nil’s Free Rein To Passions
• Divine Sweater’s Down Deep (A Nautical Apocalypse)
• Low Coast’s Existing The Dream
• Immortal’s War Against All
• Pere Ubu’s Trouble On Big Beat Street
• Bayonne’s Temporary Time
• Boy & Bear’s Boy & Bear
• Kool & The Gang’s People Just Wanna Have Fun
• Heart Attack Man’s Freak Of Nature
• Troller’s Drain
• Laurent Garnier’s 33 Tours Et Puis S’en Von
• Graham Czach’s Originalien
• Ryan Oakes’ WAKE UP
• Eliades Ochoa’s Guajiro
• Don Letts’s Outta Sync
• Simply Red’s Time
• The Mon’s Eye
• Pines Of Rome’s The Unstruck Bell
• Moon Blue’s The Moonlight Disco
• Various Artists’ Red Hot / Red Hot & Ra: Nuclear War
• Various Artists’ A Small Light: Songs From The Limited Series
• Suicide’s Suicide: A Way Of Life (35th Anniversary Edition)
• Tame Impala’s Lonerism 10-year anniversary box set
• The Exploding Hearts’ Guitar Romantic (Expanded & Remastered)
• Passion Pit’s Gossamer (Expanded Edition)
• Fridge’s Happiness – Anniversary Edition
• The Orielles’ The Goyt Method EP
• sophie meiers’s shine__space EP
• Fishbone’s Fishbone EP
• GLAAS’ Cruel Heart, Cold Summer EP
• SOM’s Faith EP
• Sabrina Kennedy’s Wheel Of The Year EP

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