Artist: Eve 6
Album: Speak In Code
Label: Fearless Records
Rather surprisingly for an album that’s marketed as being something triumphant, a peak reached after years of hard work and personal tribulations, Eve 6’s Speak In Code is a remarkably flimsy, insubstantial piece of work. It’s catchy, and poppy, and will no doubt have enormous nostalgic appeal to the band’s fan base, but it’s entirely empty. There’s very little in the way of depth or meaning throughout and it’s difficult to engage with an album so determined to be as vacuous and silly as possible. Without meaning to imply that serious subject matter can’t be treated with a sense of humour, one would at least expect some level of maturity to be in play – especially for a band that has been in and out of the business since the late Nineties and who really should know better by now.
Speak In Code is perfectly fine as a disposable, plasticine piece of songwriting, but it is disappointing for a band with so much under their belt. It responds better to repeated listens but this may be because one learns to tune out the silly and diffident lyrics that accompany bland instruments and recycled hooks. Even taking the words with a pinch of salt, there’s not all that much to encourage you to keep listening. The band’s approach seems to have been a touch cartoonish, and they haven’t invested their music or lyrics with any real flavour. It feels horribly like they took bits and pieces of the blandest pop songs they could find, mixed them up with tongue-in-cheek (and not so tongue-in-cheek) lyrical quips to girls and drinking, and slapped their name on it in the hopes their previous reputation would carry them. You may warm to the opening tracks’ catchy rhythms, but interest will have declined firm and fast by the time the final song of the album rolls round.
“Curtain” has some acerbic bite in the form of Max Collins’ vocals, but otherwise it’s muted and unexceptional. “Victoria” is slightly better, working in a touch of synth here and there for some added intrigue. The bitter jibes in the lyrics sound bizarre next to how tidy and clean the music is, but the song is guiltily enjoyable with a highly infectious beat. “Situation Infatuation” is the first real indication that things aren’t going to improve. The chirpy vocal refrains sound awkward, and the singing remains largely colourless despite the efforts of the band to plug every musical gap with a kaleidoscopic array of synth effects. “B.F.G.F” takes the immature lyrics to new heights, and in the course of three minutes morphs from something that’s vaguely charming and likeable into stupid, formulaic nonsense.
Speak In Code’s downhill trajectory continues thereafter, to the extent that the only things worth noting in songs are decently invigorating choruses (“Lost & Found”) and fluffy romantic odes (“Everything”). The bass line that opens “Trust Me” gives it some early promise and it has a pleasant, agreeable energy to it despite the continued asinine tendencies. “Moon” is the acoustic offering, and it does have some merit – it seems more natural and, stripped of their more boyish excesses, the writing has a more thoughtful lilt. That said, it’s still very basic, and lacks any real impact overall. There’s the sense of a rousing build up but no actual achievement. “Downtown” is bizarre. I think I can hear what they were aiming for, but I doubt the verses were intended as an inadvertent cover of the “Banana Boat Song.” No, really. Listen to the beat and then play that scene from Beetlejuice.
“Pick Up the Pieces” is the emotive offering, disguising the venom in the lyrics with dreary, moribund string effects. The latter do let the song stand out a little however, so it’s at least more memorable than the others.
Honestly, I feel a little bad dismissing this album so venomously, but it’s hard to take something this uninspired and formulaic seriously when it comes from a band with so much experience behind them. If they want their would-be comeback to endure, they’ll have to do better than this. There’s very little worth noting about Speak In Code, other than that fixated pop-punk singers across the world who are still engaged in bitchy rebukes about whoever broke their heart in high school have little to fear.
Review written by Grace Duffy