The Brother Kite – "Vacant Eyes" b/w "We Can Never Be Friends"

The Brother Kite
"Vacant Eyes" b/w "We Can Never Be Friends"

The true test of a songwriter or band is to have the ability to create a song that can stand on it’s own when stripped down to its barest essentials. Both Plumerai and The Brother Kite are known for dressing their songs up in effects, creating comparisons to Stereolab, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and modern day shoegaze. But on this split single, limited to 500, these 2 artists take away all excess and craft some haunting music.

The A side, “Vacant Eyes”, is given over to Plumerai, led by vocalist Elizabeth Ezell. Sounding like a subdued Karen O, her words sound as though they are slowly and painfully being pulled from her. For the majority of the song she is backed by simple acoustic guitar until her melody grows stronger, swelling to a climax in violas and cymbal crashes. It’s like taking a trip down the candlelit hallway of a haunted house. Plumerai create a tension between uncertainty and yearning and do it quite well.

If Mark Kozelek decided to do a Simon & Garfunkel cover it would come off sounding like The Brother Kite’s contribution “We Can Never Be Friends.” This is meant to be a compliment. There’s surely a sense of longing and desperation on this brief 2 guitar & vocals song with its down strummed acoustic and scant assistance of some carefully chosen accompaniment. The vocal melody starts to soar but quickly chooses to land instead, denying the feeling of wistfulness you expect. It’s a beauty of a song; simple, short, and inviting.

If a power surge were to ever strike New England Plumerai & The Brother Kite would do just fine. By stepping away from the effects and fuzz pedals both bands are more than capable of creating somber and touching music “unplugged.“