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Artist: Eisley
Label: Reprise Records
Length: 10 tracks/ 34.4 minutes

Eisley is the type of pop/rock band that grabs you on the second glance.  Their new album, filled with relatively tame musicianship and nearly identical but beautiful singing from their lead singers, doesn't lend itself a strong first impression.  It sounds like familiar yet not off-putting music; a band you'd hear once, think was nice, then move on from if no easy second chance to hear their work came around.  But a more devoted listen to these new songs reveals much more to these girls (and guys) than what may seem like on the surface.

The strongest suit in Eisley's Combinations are its lyrics.  They are perceptive and deeply engaging, and more often than not, carry the song more than any other aspect of their music.  It's the way the DuPree sisters croon lines like "Something's not right/ I can feel it inside?," or "Would you open the door?  Would you open the door? / I can be there for you?"  and  "In this wicked world risk I/ Bold endeavors by and by?," and many others, that stick with you after the particular song rests to a close.  This is a rich album lyrically, stretched across themes about passing time, contests in love, and spiritual death, and avoids most cliché without sacrificing potential for connection. 

But there emerges some faults in Combinations.  This is a quick ten-song album, and with only sprinkles of truly memorable musical accompaniment to the wonderful lyrics such as the title track's sparkling harp and acoustic guitars and horn, the pounding drum and base in "A Sight to Behold."  There isn't enough that's interesting in Combination's sound to make the album stand out and grab you as much as it really should.  The lack of atmosphere and it's desperately short at 35-minutes could mean that this beautiful, unassuming album could slip right by and start over at track one without truly catching your interest.

And it only means the listener misses out on an affecting and gently unraveling pop/rock album.  It may not seem to stand out in the crowd, but it rewards your attention, and showcases a young band still filled with talent and potential. 

Jonathan Avants 8/20/07