Given the swift turnover of new artists in today’s Irish music scene – as elsewhere – taking your time over a debut album could be seen as a risky strategy. little xs for eyes (no caps), however, have had good reason. Founding duo Bennie Reilly and Davey Moor have guided the band through changes of line-up, finally settling on an expansive six piece, and funded their debut album themselves. Such caution would appear to have paid off, if the assured and confident S.A.D. is anything to go by.
Easing in with the harmonic ‘Summer Never Comes’, this isn’t the kind of record to inspire riots in the streets but certainly is capable of pulling at your heart strings. The execution is perfect, a crystal clear combination of twinkling instruments and beautifully balanced vocals. Of the latter, it’s the massed female voices that dominate, with Moore making the odd cameo, and the band’s sound owes much to classic pop influences (albeit with a glockenspiel and ukulele thrown in for good measure).
Where it could have a lightweight, frothy experience, however, S.A.D. is a record of real substance. The songs, although undoubtedly sweet, have a bite to them with their tales of love and heartbreak. Along the way there are nods to all sorts of sounds and styles, including ’90s alternative US rock of all things, and an unwavering sense of panache. Best of the lot is ‘Somewhere With A Dancefloor’, which begins in a bluesy, country manner before transforming into a handclap driven, electro tinged tune. In truth though, little xs for eyes barely put a foot wrong throughout. The odd moment make it waver slightly and the records sags just a touch in the middle, but S.A.D. is a genuinely lovely listening experience and proof that sometimes music should be a marathon rather than a sprint.
Listen to the album here.