Water From Your Eyes Share “When You’re Around”
Structure LP Out August 27th on Wharf Cat
Last month Water From Your Eyes, the New York duo composed of Nate Amos (he/him) and Rachel Brown (they/them), announced their latest LP Structure (out via Wharf Cat Records on August 27th), and shared the album’s first single “‘Quotations”. A hypnotic track that blends dance music elements with an almost sound collage-like construction, the track earned immediate attention and an overwhelmingly positive response, being selected as the best song of the week by Stereogum and landing on NPR’s All Songs Considered. Now, the band are back with a second single from their new EP, a track called “When You’re Around” that brings out a different side of the groups restlessly multi-faceted sound.
Water From Your Eyes are easily one of the most driven and compelling outfits’ around right now. The duo have such a dynamic range to their vision, the first single they dropped from their forthcoming album simply blew us away. The innovative pair have now dropped their second single “When You’re Around” which captures that progressive appeal. The new release captures this soulful energy whilst still holding onto the hypnotic traits the pair effortlessly create. The arrangement exudes this elevated character, despite the raw lyrics the rhythmic shuffles and beat initiate this upbeat influence and feel-good vibe. This unique vibrance cascades throughout the movement and swaying motion of this ensemble whilst the dreamy harmonic vocal notes touch on intimacy and add this complex and personal depth to the natural tone of the release.
Where “‘Quotations'” saw WFYE delivering some of their more esoteric sonic ideas, “When You’re Around,” which opens their new LP, is as pure a piece of pop as the pair have made. A stately, harmony-heavy track that’s slightly reminiscent of the Beach Boys, it’s anchored by a wonderful vocal performance from Brown who pushes the emotional edges of their typically deadpan delivery in a song that they describe as “the only song I sing during our live performances without my sunglasses on.”
“‘When You’re Around’ is the first ‘movie’ song on Structure,” explains Nate Amos. “It was written for a karaoke scene that never came to fruition (I probably would’ve written something else if it had because I like this song too much). It was initially supposed to be a straight-forward love song but it gradually twisted and developed a weird sea-sick core. I was really obsessed with the album Climate of Hunter by Scott Walker (still am) and I think that had a lot to do with it. Light on the outside, spooky on the inside. It serves as sort of separate but thematically related scene to set the tone for the rest of the album.“
There’s no perfect way to describe Water From Your Eyes. Both known independently for their solo work under the names This Is Lorelei and Thanks For Coming respectively, the pair have been together since 2016, and in that time they have developed a clear-eyed approach to forward-thinking dance music that combines austerity and satire, abrasion and charm in a package that is consistently innovative and unlike anything being made by their contemporaries in the Brooklyn DIY scene or outside of it. After a series of smaller releases the band made their mark in 2019 with the release of Somebody Else’s Song, which earned praise from outlets like Stereogum, FLOOD, GoldFlakePaint and Pitchfork who declared that “wading through Water From Your Eyes’ whims is a delight in itself, and discovering the unexpected loveliness buried within is especially worthwhile.” Now, the band have returned to with their latest LP Structure (out August 27th via Wharf Cat Records).
Delighting in contradiction, Structure is an ambitious LP that approaches its own impressive scope and aspiration with a tongue-in-cheek humor and a reflexive self-effacement that wonderfully reflects the personalities of its creators. Influenced by Scott Walker’s sole 80s release, Climate of Hunter and the works of the colorfield painter Mark Rothko, it’s a concept album that pokes fun of the idea of concept albums, exploring high-minded ideas while subverting them and applying a hyper-focused eye for detail in the service of a series of clever misdirections.
This approach is perhaps best exemplified by Structure‘s…structure, as the album is arranged in what Amos describes as “two matching halves.” Each side of the LP begins with what he and Brown term “a movie song” (the first of these “When You’re Around” was originally written to soundtrack a karoake scene in a coming-of-age indie film), which is followed by a spoken word piece and then ends with different songs called “Quotations” or “”Quotations”” (the one without quotation marks in the title “has quotation marks in the sonic waveform” says Amos). Tracks 3,4,7 and 8 all contain re-arranged versions of the same lyrical phrases, and the song entitled “Track 5” is actually the album’s 6th track. All of this may sound bewildering, but the conceptual feints pale in comparison to the auditory hall of mirrors that Water From Your Eyes have created on the album.
Since their first releases the band have been grafting sonic ideas together in ways that initially feel incongruous before revealing their own fascinating logic upon closer inspection. This is taken to a new extreme on Structure, which stretches out Water From Your Eyes’ experimental mentality even further, while providing some of the more overtly “pop” moments in their catalog. Those approachable moments are consistently set against the album’s most abrasive, with the band simulating harmony-heavy indie pop that recalls a sort of para-dimensional Beach Boys on the opening track before sliding into cavernous dance pieces that give way to pummelling, near-industrial explorations, that melt into stoic spoken word tracks before making space for gradually pulsating and shockingly gorgeous sonic collages.
While initially disorienting in its complexity, Structure is also a deeply personal album, with many of the lyrics being plucked directly from Brown’s journals. Though far from what would traditionally be thought of as confessional songwriting, these lyrical elements combine with the band’s conceptual conceits and the album’s deeply immersive listening experience to form an expressive document of the sensibility and mindset that Amos and Brown, long-time creative partners and best friends, share.
“We might throw around the word ‘funny,’ since we both seem to have unusual senses of humor,” says Brown. “I think the album is funny, but in a very vague way where some of the ways things lined up naturally gave me a chuckle. The album itself when listening to it is not funny at all. It’s quite sad actually and a bit dissonant. I feel like it encompasses so much space in so many weird complex ways that I don’t even understand it. There’s emotional elements to it that I’m still guessing at. Not to be cliché, but I see it like a journey. Like going across the continent from one ocean to another in a dream world that keeps changing or you can’t grasp completely to begin with. It’s not funny at all being lost like that. Especially when the experience feels real, solid, concrete.“
When taken together Structure paints a picture too vast to be taken in at once, but repeated listens reveal melodic subtleties, rhythmic minutiae, and lyrical repetition that allow the whole to come into focus. Whether the lasting impression is concrete or abstract will depend on the listener’s perspective, but from any vantage point Structure is a thrillingly original release and a first-class achievement in brutalist pop.
1. When You’re Around
2. My Love’s
3. You’re The Embers
6. Track Five
7. You’re Watching The Fly
Structure will be released on Wharf Cat Records on August 27th. It is available for preorder here.