The sixth LP from London’s power trio Shield You Eyes, ‘Reciprocate’ retains the band’s unfussy and self contained approach to writing and recording. Influenced by British and Irish progressive blues and rock, ‘Reciprocate’ once again offers humility and calm that is a welcomed antithesis to a musical landscape saturated with hype and self-congratulation.
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- Reciprocate by Shield Your Eyes
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Firstly, and most importantly: this shit is tight. Shield Your Eyes are a strange, technical band that can freewheel with the best of them, swinging like a metronome between showy math rock and drunk noise rock that needs to go home and sleep it off. The record’s hook is that it sounds impressive, but that's only half the story; the riffs that expand and simplify, like a whole universe in flux, make for a compelling intro, but from there the record becomes a contradictory, chaotic triumph. That's one way to make original guitar music: pick apart every punk band that’s come before you and make a new, half-finished puzzle from the pieces.
These math rock Londoners sound like they’ve been working their way through the chronological history of guitar music and now get to add their own line to the family tree. ‘Reciprocate’ drops in on the everlasting guitar riffage of Don Cab, hums along with Fugazi’s melancholy masterpiece ‘The Argument’, has drums with the same resilience and performative power as the Dismemberment Plan circa ‘Change’, and also sounds like At The Drive-In, if they were recording in a bedroom after hours and didn’t want to bother anyone. But more than that, there’s a jauntiness to ‘Reciprocate’, a sound you won’t ever find in the realms of noise or math rock. This music feels fresh-aired and pastoral -- the processed harmonica freakout of “Dilemma’ recalls the Waterboys and their big, Irish influenced rock music: always intense and fucking loud, but subtly traditional. These dudes love to bend their strings ‘til they’re touching the ground, but those tricks feel like their version of twang, like they’re creating a new version of Americana that speaks in punk velocity.
‘Reciprocate’ is a strangely beautiful record, and while it speaks to a lineage of punk music that’s grown more technical and showy than ever, it also feels wholly naive, wide-eyed and new. That’s partly because of the looseness this band play their music with; it’s like they’re inventing new riffs, new melodies, as they go along. They have to stop, pause, think about it -- but then they remember they know everything there is to know about the rock lexicon.
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