little xs for eyes | Everywhere Else
by tom johnson
There are times, when listening to Everywhere Else, the gorgeous, brilliant new record from little xs for eyes, when you feel like it belongs to another time completely. Or at least another place, maybe, such is the burning sense of wistful grace that treads a careful path right through the very centre of it; a constant stream of elegance that sits like the records spine, holding the whole thing up.
For those new to the Dublin collective, they’re a band who make considered, agile indie pop, all breathy, jumpy vocals and beautifully refined instrumentation, and ‘Everywhere Else’ is the their much anticipated second LP. Those already in the know; fear not. Despite something of a rocky road getting here – from member changes, and time passing as it does – the album is wonderfully assured. The tracks we’ve heard thus far still feel dazzlingly alive, and they’re grouped with an equally alluring set of counterparts, but what’s most satisfying is the way the whole thing works as a single piece. Defined by the finesse of its unraveling, it’s an album to wrap yourself up in; a momentary act of removal that makes it own space within a day that is otherwise rudimentary.
Released this week, we’re very pleased to bring you an exclusive listen to the whole record, alongside a track-by-track guide written by chief songwriter Bennie Reilly. Check it all out below.
Track by Track | Everywhere Else
by Bennie Reilly
Phantom Wings This is where our journey begins. The quest for everywhere else. On a cool and pale day a V of migratory birds flew over my gloomy city garden and I felt a surge of longing to be in whichever warm and exotic land they were headed for. Anywhere at all, so long as it was foreign and far away. The rhythmical vocals and chanting were the musical starting point for this song – they have a tribal feel. Around these were built wandering and erratic guitar and drum patterns, naively suggestive of Latin and Afro styles. And so the song became a salute to all of the sunny places we would search for. Love Gets Lost Saving an ageing relationship with lip-lock, not lip service. A sentiment not dissimilar to Right Said Fred’s Don’t Talk Just Kiss. There’s an urgency and slightly frantic energy to the instrumentation in this song which really reflects the impatience and exasperation of the lyrics. I had always fancied having a steel drum sound in this song then one evening in a gallery space in Dublin we saw Rory Grubb perform with his ceramophone – a large xylophone-like instrument which he created by amplifying ceramic plant pots of various sizes – and asked him to play on the track. You can see Rory perform this amazing instrument in the video for the song made by artist Alan Butler. Seeping Hearts
“Everybody’s breaking up!”
When I wrote this song there seemed to be a break-up epidemic happening among my friends. Couples I’d known for a long time were splitting up. The song is sympathetic to both sides of a break up, but it’s mostly written from the point of view of those (including myself) who were still in happy relationships but who had become suddenly fearful amidst all this love-rubble. Summer Stay One morning in early September 2012, after a summer spent waiting for the summer, I opened my curtains to find that it had arrived. Emotional and weary from the wait I went out walking in what felt like the first and the last good day of the year. I walked for hours through the meadows and woods of Dublin’s Phoenix Park and by the time I got home this song was written, layered and memorized within my sun burnt head. Summer Music by Advanced Base had been my anthem during that non-summer of 2012 and we paid a little homage to that track with the synth sounds on Summer Stay. Logical Love
“I’ve been keeping off my feet cause I can’t stop falling, can’t stop falling for you”
The gorgeous turmoil that comes with trying to resist a hot but inevitably doomed romance. The staccato bass and guitar of the intro are that pulse of anticipation, eventually released into a melancholic melody. The hum and soar of the synths are both the surges of excitement and the stomach churning doubt that accompany risky ventures of the heart. Dusky Seaside Sparrow We felt that this album, both musically and thematically, was evocative of a journey and so to enhance this idea and encourage the flow of the album Harry created sound-scape segues for most of the tracks using samples and field recordings. Dusky Seaside Sparrow is our introduction to Funk Island; the sound of our hopeful approach to this longed for destination. The ethereal sound of the in-between places. Funk Island Funk Island is a craggy, uninhabited rock off the coast of Newfoundland. It’s the place where the very last of the now extinct Great Auks was poached in order to adorn a nineteenth century taxidermy collection. For us, Funk Island is the place we have always been searching for, rare and exotic and full of promise, it’s everywhere we want to be. We long to get there but secretly we hope we never do for once we find it we have nothing left to search for. “Your feathers fill the pillow my dreams will die on now that you’re gone” Nearer to Nowhere Drowning in the wreckage after the inevitable disappointment of our voyage to Funk Island. Nearer to Nowhere speaks of how oblivious we can sometimes be to the reality of how submerged we are, in love or in grief. As we gracefully twirl and sink towards the ocean bed, the beauty of bubbles and rippled rays of refracted sunlight from above blind us from the reality of our grim situation. For this track I wanted it to sound like the instruments were being played underwater. I think we achieved this with the synth tones. The ethereal sound of the (zither-like) psaltery takes us even further away from dry land, from modernity, from reality. Disko Bay We started our journey pining for somewhere else, and in the search for the right place we encountered every place. We have seen, heard and felt everything. We now long for nowhere. Somewhere with no light, no sun, no people, no stimulus. Disko Bay, west of Greenland in the Arctic Circle is our final destination. Soothed by polar nights and with all of our senses isolated we tune into the vibrations; the sonar of the deep sea creatures below and the electricity of the Northern sky above. Here, we can close our eyes and be everywhere.
‘Everywhere Else‘ is released today.