Album of the Day: Weeping Icon, “Eyeball Under”

On their brief, 24-minute debut EP, Weeping Icon pull off a complicated trick, marrying the locked-groove, motorik rhythms of krautrock with the fury and snarl of punk. But their approach is decidedly psychedelic: where much of punk favors distinct riffs and big, melodic hooks, Weeping Icon instead drape loose blankets of guitar over ramrod percussion. In a short time, they’ve become one of New York’s most captivating live bands, and in the concert setting, they extend songs to epic length, letting the layers of hypnotic sound pile up one on top of the other, and allowing the songs to wander instead of move directly from point A to B. The effect is absorbing and mirage-like, wavy, distorted chords dissolving from concrete noise to abstract sound.

They capture that same sense of free-roaming adventure throughout Eyeball Under. Though most of its songs remain comfortably inside of four minutes, there’s the sense that they could go on four times as long and not lose any power. Instead of bludgeoning with force, they unnerve you with repetition. Album standout “Teeth (& A Handbag)” tells the same story of a subway robbery over and over; the song’s lyrics feel jarring at first, then determined, then, finally, furious. The music works in tandem; the bass and drums adhere rigidly to a single pattern, but the guitars billow out infinitely, filling all available airspace with sound. When they finally arrive at the idea of revenge, it appears in a kind of chilling moral isolation chamber—it’s presented, but never commented or acted upon.

The rocketing “Jail Billz,” a snarling tale of street harassment, follows a similar M.O.: guitars saw away at a single transfixing riff while the cold-eyed drumming rockets forward at a furious pace. The walls collapse and the song seems to expand outward endlessly. Eyeball Under isn’t an experimental record so much as an experiential one. You don’t listen to it—you let it envelop you, until you finally disappear within the haze.

J. Edward Keyes

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