Frog Eyes have been chugging away at the indie music game for almost 10 years, and have crafted such an interesting blend of alt-punk-folk that it’s hard to not see their influence everywhere. From bands like Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs and The Mountain Goats, to contemporaries like Silver Jews and Fruit Bats, the Canada-based Frog Eyes are in good company in the indie world but have never really gotten enough of a fair share in terms of recognition. Easily seen in their music, especially on their fifth full-length, Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph, is deference to the brashness of Tom Waits and Nick Cave, and even pays a homage to a punk edge reminiscent of The Sex Pistols and The Pogues. In a similar fashion to most of these bands, Frog Eyes deal with complex themes in their albums, making them rather difficult to digest. Yet the music manages to be in its own fiery, howling territory.

 

Paul’s Tomb is a welcome addition to their catalogue, but it meanders even further off the path of easily definable. What is immediately evident is the lyrical passion that singer Carey Murphy displays, especially on the 9-minute opus that is the opening track, “A Flower In A Glove.” If you can see past all of the noise and punk clamorings, the album has a somber tone. Its funeral theme borders on zombie-creepy when, during the aptly aptly-titled “Violent Psalms,” Mercer chants, “Paul is alive.” His voice can get a little grating; as a friend aptly put it, listening to Frog Eyes is “an intense experience.” It works best to see each of the songs as smaller stories, individual parts of a larger tale — albeit a morbid one.

Listen to “A Flower In A Glove” – DOWNLOAD MP3

Take the second track, “The Sensitive Girls,” a shorter but more joyous song. It makes a little sense at first, until you notice Mercer chanting about “gazing into the edge.” And while you are trying to wrap your head around the lyrical insanity, it is easy to take for granted the fantastic guitar-playing and well-placed distortion. Throughout the record, the drumming is just sparse enough, at just the right times, and the keyboards come through clearly and pristinely. Almost like an organ at a church funeral.

Frog Eyes are rewarding to those who appreciate details and lyrical intrigue. Which is why listening to the parts instead of the whole is more manageable. That way, the album doesn’t come across as the a jumble of guitar distortion and shouts, which might initially turn many off. There are numerous beautiful moments within the rough textures of Paul’s Tomb, but these take time to find. While Frog Eyes is certainly one of those bands that is not for everyone, their continued efforts at putting forth meaningful art are successful, and appreciated.

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