Eyelids’ new album, A Colossal Waste of Light, does an excellent job of framing the quintet as one of today’s most compelling purveyors of lopsided guitar pop workouts and earworm-laden vocal melodies. It also proves that great guitar pop can still evoke favorites from a glorious past - the penetrating moodiness of XTC’s Black Sea, or R.E.M.’s Fables of the Reconstruction, comes to mind - while refusing to waste time on idle nostalgia.
Whether it’s ‘Swinging in the Circus’ with its poignant musings on both stage fright and feeling like you don’t measure up, or the breezy Drums and Wires anthemic pop of ‘They Said So’, A Colossal Waste of Light speaks of and to the present, a time when light and dark can’t help but feel firmly intertwined.
On their 4th full-length album (but 17th vinyl offering if you include previous 7”s and EPs) the Portland, OR band also rediscover the beauty of firsts. A Colossal Waste of Light marks the first time the band wrote songs remotely (“it ended up being fun & weird to send out a very simple version of a song and see who came back first with another part for it”, John Moen looks back), their first reunion at the Destination: Universe studio post-isolation, and their first batch of melodious new tunes since The Accidental Falls, the band’s 2020 project with poet, lyricist and Tim Buckley collaborator Larry Beckett (an extra-ordinary pairing that allowed Eyelids’ two frontmen/tunesmiths, Chris Slusarenko and John Moen, to find a new, multilayered appreciation for the art of songcraft).
Most importantly, A Colossal Waste of Light is the first Eyelids album to feature new bass player Victor Krummenacher (Camper Van Beethoven, Monks of Doom). Eyelids had shared bills with Krummenacher a few times before he moved to Portland, but once he arrived he quickly found himself in a new town where everything was suddenly locked down. Luckily enough, there were eventual get-togethers in Slusarenko’s backyard and, finally one day, a most coveted question: “do you want me to play bass for your band?”. The artistry he brings to A Colossal Waste of Light is seasoned and fresh in equal measure. Alongside Jonathan Drews’ expressive yet mysteriously ethereal guitar playing and Paulie Pulvirenti’s imaginative and powerful drumming, the finished LP is the perfect summation of Eyelids’ new and old ways of collaborating together.
It’s also another point in favor of Eyelids’ continued status as living proof that “never meet your heroes” was a weak excuse that someone with the wrong heroes must have made up. R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck’s return behind the producer’s desk for Eyelids is as glorious and inspired as ever. At the recommendation of Buck, what was initially intended as an EP promptly turned into what might very well be Eyelids’ finest and most representative record to date. Buck even joined the proceedings with some additional 12-string magic to the psychedelic burnout classic ‘Lyin’ In Your Tomb’ & guitar strangle meltdown ‘I Can’t Be Told’ that defiantly closes the album.
As for the record’s title, Slusarenko notes that it conjures “the parallel lines of dearly holding onto some sort of version of hope, all the while knowing everything's going to shit.” With all the feel of a lost late '70s classic, A Colossal Waste Of Light sounds both majestic and playfully open to multifaceted meanings and moods. It’s haunted and vibrant all at once, while putting some kicks back towards melancholy. Every track feels like its own journey and having songs from two songwriters at the top of their game makes for a most dynamic, immersive narrative as their songs follow one another throughout. As a whole, it’s thrilling, moving, mercurial, absorbing, soothing, and unmistakably Eyelids.