Ayo Jegede
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August 07, 2005
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Reverb EP

Former Eels bassist Tommy Walters returns with ‘The Reverb EP’ 3 years after his band’s debut, ‘Humanistic.’ Sharing little with the Eels’ lugubrious bent, the debut was made of up very simple, straightforward pop-rock and acoustic washes. Its simplicity belied themes of decay and squalor, using the idyllic sound itself to bury these otherwise unsettling tales. Suburbia was its setting, the easy music put forth describing the affected placidity of its characters while the lyrics—especially on ‘Ruin Your Life’—were certainly not as pleasing.

‘The Reverb EP’ has little thematic dimension, instead offering an abbreviated look into the emergent sound between ‘Humanistic’ and ‘Armed to The Teeth,’ to be released some time in September. Lacking that theme, the songs wander in their own orbits without any real vision and, poppy as it may be, the EP loses momentum without any identifiable goals. Walters’s vocals are an improvement over ‘Humanistic,’ pushing towards higher octaves than before on “Armed to The Teeth” and “The Catalyst.” And while competent on technical merits, the songs themselves are merely rote, verse-chorus-verse pop-rock constructions.

The EP also includes a weak cover of Bjork’s “Army of Me” and a mixed version of the “Waiting to Panic” demo, perhaps the strongest song on ‘The Reverb.’ Judging Walters’s latest release as a completed artistic enterprise would be patently incorrect because it wasn’t envisioned as such (Iron and Wine’s ‘Woman King’ EP, however, was). Instead it’s more of a pronouncement that the band remains alive, even after their label went belly-up, the touring line-up was truncated, and Walters’s cat became gravely ill (no, seriously). We’ll have to wait until this fall for the band’s proper return.

Release date: June 7, 2005
Label: Universal
Rating: 5.2 / 10