Eisley make some of the downright prettiest, and strangest, pop of the 2000s. Guitar pop-rock, yet layered; romantic, yet quirky; uplifting, yet melancholy, Eisley boasts an unexpected depth and breadth for a family group led by two singing sisters. Building on its lauded 2005 debut Room Noises, Combinations is diverse producer Richard Gibbs has played with Oingo Boingo, produced Korn and scored the film Queen Of The Damned but it is always centered on the winsome harmonies of Stacy and Sherri DuPree (with guitarist sister Chauntelle and a rhythm section of bassist cousin Garron and drummer brother Weston). That combination has made Eisley one of the most promising young acts of the decade.
The great thing about Eisley's follow-up to 2005's Room Noises
is not just that it's a crystalline, polished piece of pop craft, but that it still manages to feel personal. The DuPree sisters have conjured another blizzard of vocal harmony, and made it sound like something they could do in their sleep. But here it floats over music that is both sturdy and whimsical. Still quite young (Sherri is 23, Stacy is 18), the sisters and their assorted family members (all five members of the band are related) have improved on the occasional blandness that compromised Noises
is still over-produced and would profit from a few more rough edges, but the guitars are a little crunchier and the music sounds weightier. Less content to exist as backgrounds for the DuPrees' lovely voices, the structures of songs like "I Could Be There for You" stay fresh and unpredictable after more than a few listens. And yet there's no fat here, with no track exceeding four minutes. That economy of sound helps Eisley get a lot of range on a song like "Taking Control," which opens with a gorgeous verse, shifts into a blink-and-you'll-miss-it bridge and--bam!--we're onto the chorus. The whole thing takes exactly 26 seconds. It's a little scary how young they are relative to their songwriting chops. Listening to Eisley is fun now, but even more fun when you consider their through-the-roof potential. --Matthew Cooke