[sic] Magazine

Frog Eyes – Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph

There’s little else quite like Frog Eyes , and ever since 2007’s verbose Tears Of The Valedictorian tore them (primarily Carey Mercer ) from relative obscurity, the rest of the world has been trying to catch up. So far however, only former members Jonathan Meiburg and Spencer Krug have come close, scaling equally dramatic heights as the Shearwater figurehead and mining an increasingly impressive seam of literate, epic indie as Sunset Rubdown respectively.

To up his game from the thrillingly dense catalogue to date, Mercer has recruited Megan Boddy to dilute his operatic howl and channel their challenging sound in his chosen direction. Much like Dirty Projectors , whose Dave Longstreth equally grew his ranks with female accompaniment, Frog Eyes never attempt to be obvious, never pander to convention, sprawl and meander, splutter and soar.

Their fifth studio LP commences with the nine-minute psychedelic jam “A Flower In A Glove”, which houses spikes of guitar, rolling drums and a slow rhythm that provides the piece with a consolidating heartbeat. Mercer’s unique howl and deviations lend the track a proggish quality, whereas its warm drone and vocal echo veer it more toward shoegaze.

The Boss ‘s breathy exuberance is brought to mind on parts of “The Sensitive Girls” and “Styled By Dr. Roberts”, which swell with almost-choruses, teetering on crescendos before being buried under massively varied vocal deliveries and competing tempos. Stabs of flat synth introduce “Odetta’s War” as general guitar bombast ensures that established time signatures go out the window. Bridging the two halves of Paul’s Tomb, the instrumental “Lear, In The Park” is altogether more relaxed, built on echoing strumming.

The plodding intro to “Lear In Love” explodes some seconds in, filling the tail end of the album with energy and celebration. Mercer goes all Nick Cave for the gloomier “Violent Psalms”. Part spoken word and with simmering organ, it reprises the earlier reverb for the album’s most straight forward offering. Stable in cyclicity, Frog Eyes close with the meandering, yet direct, eight-minute titular opus. Manic and raucous, it plays a strong hand unleashing barbs when necessary, rolling in restraint in between with a slow chime reminiscent of AC/DC ‘s “Hell’s Bells”.

Guilty only of giddy enthusiasm and its resultant, sometimes baffling cocktail, Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph frequently sets itself up for a fall that it cleverly, moreover triumphantly, never takes.

Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph is out 26th April 2010 in the UK, and 27th April in the US on Dead Oceans .