The first song I heard by Erica Eso was "Gun-metal Grey". It's one of these songs that has this smooth R&B feel to it but it's also just very easy to get stuck inside your head. I had this album for a couple of months and things got busy, as they usually do, and I began to feel overwhelmed, which I also can at times. I went through the music I had to review and after listening to this a bunch of times (maybe ten) I just decided for various reasons I wasn't going to review it. It mostly came down to time mixed with a combination of not knowing exactly what to write (not having enough to type about it) and I felt somewhat odd about it-- I didn't dislike "129 Dreamless GMG", I just wasn't in love with it.
I spent a few weeks, maybe even a month, without listening to this album. I distanced myself from it, though it was still there on social media and in press emails, reminding me of what could have been. Though in some ways it was a relief-- instantly being able to archive an email about something I knew I had no interest in reviewing. It makes it so much easier than having to stress over release dates and finding a hook to write about. The clock was ticking and I was okay for once because I didn't need to find a hook; I was passing.
Then I spent more than one time just randomly singing "Gun-metal Grey" out of nowhere. It was stuck in this far-back place in my mind from my previous listens to it and it had somehow made its way back to the surface for me to experience again. Have you ever listened to a particularly good album in your youth, maybe your early teenage years perhaps, and then listened to it again in your twenties or thirties (or older) and had this life-changing experience where you thought "Wow, I knew this was good back in '96 but in 2016 it's just... so much better than I ever imagined.
Erica Eso had that kind of affect on me only instead of waiting ten or twenty years for the music to really click it was more like ten or twenty days. (Of course I'm estimating to enhance the writing) So what I'm saying to everyone who listens to this album: if you like it, cool, but you'll probably appreciate it even more over time. If you don't like it, at least you've listened to it so Erica Eso can have planted those seeds in your mind that will one day blossom, you will come back to this and you will understand it.
Between saxophones and synths, smooth R&B and soul and just the general idea of wild guitars the easiest way (in a broad sense) to describe this would be as some best possible combination of Prince and David Bowie. That is one of the reasons why I wasn't sure about writing a review of this. I figure you can simply say "This sounds like the best parts of Prince and David Bowie combined" and everyone would just say "Sold!" and listen to it. But sometimes that isn't enough. Sometimes that doesn't even sell me on an album because, again, this one took some time for me.
At one point in my notes I referred to this album as being "future rock" but with the way it seems set in space at times and just has this overall feeling of musical magic I like to think of it more as futurewave. Erica Eso are making these sounds that you might not have thought were quite possible yet and people maybe wouldn't be ready for them until 2035, 2050? "Vaccination Free" begins acapella and then drums come crashing in with space lasers. I am reminded of how James Gunn wanted David Bowie to play an alien in a "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie before he died.
"Love-gun" seems to take a shot at not only MTV but mainstream culture in general, which I would love to be one of those people who believes everything in mainstream society is shitty because it feels like the highest paying art is the least original while the original artists suffer away for minimum wage. But hey, daddy's on morphine again. But the lyrics will definitely get stuck in your head just as much as the rhythms and melodies because that is what originally brought me to this album and what ultimately ended up bringing me back to it.