Eiffel – AudibleNarcotic


First, let me tell you a little bit about Eiffel from a local’s perspective. In the two years I’ve lived in Denver, I’ve seen Eiffel open for the hardest of hardcore bands and the most indie rock of indie rock bands. Generally, however, they fit in best when playing with fellow natives Planes Mistaken for Stars and the more emo-minded hardcore acts. Live, their shows are almost impossible to beat. I was always left with the impression of these guys close on a small stage playing their hearts and guts out, the songs intricate and lengthy affairs, one blending effortlessly into the next. The songs would be loud and screaming one moment, intricate and melodic the next, full of complexity and brilliance. Their live shows were incredible, and that’s why their first full-length album was one of my most anticipated albums of last year.
Unfortunately, the much-delayed Audible Narcotic (the band supposedly had been ready to release it more than a year prior) doesn’t live up to their live shows, and I’m a little confused as to why it doesn’t. It should – after all, all the same elements are here. The band’s blend of emo and hardcore, while not the most unique in the world, is still more powerful and intense than almost any other band I can think of. Yet, something is decidedly lacking.
I think the problem is that, live, all the songs sound much more on the hardcore side of things. When this band is playing grinding guitar lines and intricate yet powerful riffs, they are at their best, and the vocals, somewhere between a loud sing and a scream, match perfectly. On this album, however, too often the band falls into the softer side of emo, the side that’s been done to death, with melodic guitar and sung vocals that aren’t really all that good at this pace.
Oh, things start off reasonably well. “The Set Up” sets things up with a blazing guitar riff and powerful vocals, and then it slows down into melodic, soft singing before breaking into the fast, driving rhythms and sung/shouted vocals. One thing’s for sure: Eiffel’s guitarists are amazing at any speed, and you can definitely hear each perfect riff. Then “Long Wave Radio” from their 7″ is here, and this song just feels old. The style of slow and melodic leading to loud and powerful (with great screams!) leading to slow and melodic feels very 1997 or so. And while the standout of that 7″, “To Write a Symphony,” is also here, it too feels older and too formulaic in this setting. Perhaps the best song on this album is “Penn. Station,” a track that incorporates the best of The Jazz June and Penfold with moments of melodic hardcore to create a fast and perfectly structured song that also has its moody breakdowns. “Lullaby” showcases the band playing a brilliant work at the slower, more melodic sound. I love this track as much for its beauty as the perfect play of the lyrics. Luckily, the album finishes hot, with “Last Best Side” even more blisteringly fast and powerful than most Planes’ songs. This one kicks ass, and it kicks it with a serious sense of melody and feeling, especially when it slows down teasingly, getting more mellow and melodic before kicking your ass again.
But it’s songs like “The Remedy,” “AudibleNarcotic,” and “This New Art” that feel somewhat uninspired. The band is playing just as good as they ever do, and technically, these songs are quite sound, with perfect thick bass, powerful drumming, and stellar guitar riffs. But what’s missing is the energy and spirit that the band shows on some of these other songs and in a live setting. And without that passion, these songs become mundane, not the brilliant works they are capable of.
I think my problem with Eiffel is really that my expectations were so high. I wanted something that captured the brilliance and complexity of their amazing live shows, and this isn’t it. The band may be the victim of the album’s slow fruition. I get the sense these songs were written as much as two or three years ago and thoroughly played out. The energy, the passion of their live shows isn’t here; instead you feel like the band is putting these songs together by wrote. Perhaps it just had to be released before its successor can be put together. Or perhaps this is truly a live band. Either way, I’m just glad I’m a local and can experience this band in the way they are meant to be experienced.