CD review: Eisley, The Valley

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Eisley is a family band that gets it right. The DuPrees – three sisters, a brother, and a cousin – rise above the occasional Partridge Family stereotypes to create radio-friendly pop infused with just-odd-enough metaphors and symphonic twinkleness that they can’t seem to please the big wigs controlling the airwaves. And that’s what I love about them. They will never sell out to what's popular at the moment, or create a Bieber Fever-type frenzy. They’re staunch enough to say no to a contract renewal with a company that basically ignored them because they didn’t make moolah (Warner Bros.), and they’re true enough to their fans and their art to keep on keepin’ on in the underground scene by joining a like-minded label (Equal Vision).

With their third LP, The Valley, Eisley is more orchestrated, more mature, and more inspiring than ever. In the four years since their last album, the DuPrees each experienced a very low personal valley (hence the title), and most of the songs reflect the shock, bitterness, resentment, and recovery from sudden heartbreak. They make you feel their raw but eventually optimistic pain with relatable lyrics crafted around airy layers of melodies. Only on a few tracks do crunchy guitars and wailing bring you down to the depths of the moment their despair hit them.  Plus, Sherri and Stacy DuPree have ridiculously clear, angelic voices that even sound pretty when they’re fuming at “you and all your friends who didn’t like me” and “that apocryphal wedding.” Harmonies abound, as usual – a highlight being the Fleetwood Mac-esque vocal layering of “whoas” in “Oxygen Mask.”

Don’t assume this is entirely an angry-chicks-using-art-to-emotionally-murder-their-wrongdoers album. A small part of it is. You will definitely want to leave a copy of “Smarter” on your ex’s doorstep, and nothing will chill your bones if “Please” doesn’t. What you’ll really hear on The Valley is a family coming together to regroup after a low point in their lives. What is music if not cathartic? As they realize in “Ambulance,” “I’m gonna be ok, but it doesn’t seem that way.” Not all anger becomes twisted into an “Adam’s Song” miasma of depression and giving up. This album presents proof that music can help get anyone through anything.

The Valley will be released March 1 via Equal Vision Records.

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