Eisley's fourth album, Currents, is a study in contrasts. It's the sound of a band growing up, but not forgetting the magical power of childlike curiosity or the joy of unselfconscious creativity. It's an album that nods to playful pop and stormy rock, but also gentle electronica and delicate classical. But more than that, Currents finds the group forging their own path in the world, but never losing sight of the homegrown heart that's made the band beloved by legions of fans.
For Eisley, that heart is in their hometown of Tyler, Texas. It's where the quintet -- siblings Sherri
DuPree-Bemis (vocals/keyboard/guitar), Stacy King (vocals/guitar), Chauntelle DuPree (guitar/vocals) and Weston DuPree (drums), and their cousin Garron DuPree (bass) -- first started playing shows together in the late-'90s, in a coffeehouse owned by their parents. The idyllic town remained their home after Eisley began to grow and evolve: signing with a major label, releasing two albums (2005's Room Noises and 2007's Combinations) and a handful of EPs, and touring with bands such as Coldplay, Mutemath, and Switchfoot. And when the band eventually parted ways with the major and landed on Equal Vision, they released The Valley (2011), followed by 2012's Deep Space EP, recorded after cobbling together studio spaces in Chauntelle and Sherri's houses.
Currents is indeed unique within Eisley's catalog. Haunted piano, humming keyboards and atmospheric arrangements dotted with knotty electric guitar ("Currents") and bewitching harmonies ("Save My Soul") lend the album a pensive tone, while ornate details -- skittering rhythms and searing bass (the Radioheadlike "Lost Enemies") or rich acoustic guitars ("Millstone") -- add vibrant color. Plus, songs such as the jazz-tinged "Drink The Water," starry-eyed "Find Me Here" and the lacy pop gem "Wicked Child" have sweeping string accents courtesy of Missouri-based musician Jeremy Larson, who's also in Stacy's other band, Sucre. "We sent him the record to mix, and we'd get it back with these amazing string parts," Sherri says. "He wrote all of them and recorded them himself in his studio. We were pretty blown away by them."
Although it's less rock-focused than Eisley's last full-length album, The Valley, Currents is an incredibly visceral listening experience that conjures vivid experiences: a nightmarish Brothers Grimm fairy tale, the romance of a black-and-white movie, the distorted reality of a Tim Burton film, flipping through a stack of sepia-toned photos. "The songs aren't exactly three minutes long for radio," Sherri says. "They're totally still melodic and they have hooks and they're catchy, because that's always what we tend to write. But they're not as poppy, because we're older now and also everyone's branching out and wanting to explore new musical ideas. Everyone's also growing musically. I think that definitely comes through in this record."
Indeed, with Currents it's clear that Eisley have never been more excited about making music, because they've evolved into exactly who they want to be. "We were really young when we got into the industry and were really impressionable and naïve in some ways," Stacy says. "But now it's great. I feel like we're fully grown up. I feel like this time we're just making music that we really love. We're not doing it for any other reason."