oppa and Momma DuPree have got to be some of the proudest parents around. Their children have just released one of the better albums of 2007. Hailing from Tyler, Texas, the four DuPree siblings (Chauntelle, Sherri, Stacy, and Weston) and one DuPree cousin (Garron) make up Eisley, one of the finer piano-rock bands making music today. In 2005, they released Room Noises on Warner/Reprise Records, which was received warmly by critics and fans alike and generate some buzz for the quintet. While it was nothing outside the norm of the genre, it was good for what it was. Now in 2007, Eisley have just released their second album on Warner/Reprise, titled Combinations, which proves to be their best work to date. Produced by Richard Gibbs, the ten track album clocks in just under 40 minutes, with no track going over 4 minutes. Each track is composed beautifully, mixing pop sensibilities with bolder moves and noises that help take Eisley outside the constraints of the genre.
Combinations is a roller coaster of an album, setting different vibes with each track. To pigeonhole this collection of songs as “piano-rock” or “pop-rock” would be a grave injustice to the complexity and uniqueness of the album. You could say that use of “checks and balances” is in full effect, as neither Stacy’s keys nor Sherri and Chauntelle’s guitars dominate the music, rather they coexist to create seamless harmonies.
The duel vocals are also very effective, as they kick in right away on the stunning opener, “Many Funerals.” The track is full of bite, especially with the guitar driven chorus that immediately showcases how Eisley have progressed musically. The beauty of this album is that not one track sounds like the other. Following the opener is the first single, “Invasion.” Paced by Weston’s steady drum beat and Stacy’s deliberate keys, the song is an instant toe-tapper. “Go Away” is an intimate ballad, while “I Could Be There For You” features a tribal-like drum beat and scarce piano keys.
The delicate “Come Clean” starts off with the lyrics “Mister, I don’t believe in you,” (which reminds me of the music video for “Telescope Eyes” off of Room Noises) while being backed by breezy guitar and bass parts. The DuPree’s explore their alt-country/blues side with “Ten Cent Blues,” and “A Sight To Behold” is very waltzy track that takes a life of its own. “If You’re Wondering” closes Combinations on a quieter yet effective note. It’s light and subtle, featuring horns and what sounds to be a toy piano throughout.
Combinations is what I like to call a “sleeper” album. It’s an album that totally caught me by surprise, as it displays a sense of maturity and efficient songwriting in all ten tracks. Gibbs production is nearly pristine, as each song is nicely refined instead of being glossy and overproduced. And I find myself listening to this album more and more as the days continue on, as Combinations proves to be the perfect end of summer/beginning of fall album.