If little xs for eyes’ debut album S.A.D. was a patchwork quilt made up of the daydreams of the past and fears of the future, their second offering Everywhere Else is the destination that they longed for. The grass that is always greener, a tangible future filled with something more that’s just frustratingly out of reach; an island where lost souls can find comfort. It’s an idyllic soundtrack for imaginary, languid, sun dappled days lying in the city parks with those dreamy Lisbon sisters swooning as Bennie Reilly’s honey and caramel vocals drip over the sultry air.
Everywhere Else is an album on the run, drenched in wanderlust. Idealised visions of escape – both mental and physical – are littered throughout. It’s a restless, relentless pursuit that begins with the jerky, almost tribal, percussions and layered vocals of opener ‘Phantom Wings’, with its pealing pleading for the birds in flight to “take me with you”, right through to the burning longing hidden in the spiralling synths and shimmering guitars of the album closer, the 8 minute epic ‘Disko Bay’.
Those perfect close harmonies, sunshine hooks and tinkling xylophones envelope the lyrical despondency like a hug from an old friend. As always, there is a bruised toughness in the lyrics that belie the candied delivery. Thematically, the album tackles the drudgery of the quarter-life crisis where the constant fantastical imagery of the freedom and beauty of the natural world rubs up awkwardly against mundane reality. Tracks like the twilight nightmare of ‘Seeping Hearts’ or the twin heartbeats of the romantically melancholic ‘Love Gets Lost’ and ‘Summer Stay’ feature mentions of swollen eyes, landing lights and drying washing – a truly adult, domesticated landscape fraught with the anxiety of modern monotony and the cruel emptiness of the passing of time.
These wistful emotions rumble under a musical tropical storm, an irresistible cocktail of pop hooks in the ethereal mode of Yumi Zouma, Au Revoir Simone and Cults at their most catchy with their trademark seductive harmonies and a new muscular rhythm section of skittering beats and sharp basslines adding real strength and power throughout -most notably on the airy ‘Funk Island’ cutting through its sugary sweetness like a much needed whisky shot.
Early contender for song of the year (that should be dominating daytime radio) ‘Logical Love’ perfectly exhibits this new found confidence that Everywhere Else is brimming full of. It’s a foxy brew of slinky bass, breathy, silky vocals and spacey synths shining through the album like a glittery disco-ball, a beacon of pure pop brilliance hypnotic in its giddy addictiveness.
Finishing up with the swirling ‘Disko Bay’, a gale-force wind that encompasses the sensual magic of the record, it showcases a band that have truly managed to discover their strengths and have carefully curated a cohesive work that will, with any luck, find the appreciative audience it deserves. Little xs for eyes make for the ideal summer companion with an album craving to be cracked open on those mythic days when the sun finally makes a welcome return and the air is filled with the scent of sunscreen and dreams of illicit kisses in the golden light. Hopefully now that their yearning to be everywhere else has passed they’ll realise that they’ve actually already reached their musical home.