For a multitude of reasons – and most of them obvious – naming one’s band Steve Buscemi’s Dreamy Eyes is a bold move. Its capacity for meme-ification in 2017’s quick-fix musical landscape begs the question: will the content of their debut EP Four Waters, released by indie label Rama Lama, supply the gimmick with some substance?
As opening track ‘Dive’ begins, we’re thrust into familiar sonic territory. It seems to draw from a solid and safe pool of influences: Creation Records and Captured Tracks’ output, more recent Real Estate material. But as it progresses, it amalgamates these elements into something less tangible and more striking; that is to say, there’s a certain quality here that sets this apart from those whose music can be described on similar terms. Highlighting this quality is Siri Sjöberg’s soaring vocal which borders on operatic as ‘Dive’ climaxes, while Elias Mahfoud’s brilliantly angular guitar solo that follows is totally singular, his robotically precise playing juxtaposed against a very human haze of psychedelic effects and crashing cymbals. The consequence is remarkable.
In short, it becomes apparent quite quickly that this is a band of a higher standard than many who were swept up by the dream pop revival of recent years. ‘Always’ follows, and the rhythm section gets its chance to shine. Edvin Arleskär’s tumbling, danceable grooves work in tandem with striking harmonies and intricate guitar work to create something as fitting for the dancefloor as it is for moments of private introspection.
The strength of Four Waters is its bold and original reframing of some familiar tropes of contemporary guitar music – and this continues to be evident on ‘What Goes Around’. Here, Mahfoud’s lackadaisical vocal delivery is showcased for the first time in a duet with Sjöberg that feels all the more poignant given the EP’s subject matter: “It’s about helping each other out when one of you can’t manage”, they explain. Lead single ‘Swim Deep’ concludes; its theatrical two-word hook is the EP’s most memorable, and sees the band provide their most infectious moment yet.
For a quartet so current as to form via a tweet, and with a name so drenched in irony, Steve Buscemi’s Dreamy Eyes’ debut EP demonstrates a total fluency in – and an uncanny ability to extrapolate from – a style of guitar pop rooted in the past. Four Waters is doubly rewarding with each listen as the subtleties of its instrumentation become clear, and is as sophisticated a guitar pop EP as you’re likely to have heard all year.