When Chicago four-piece Radar Eyes first emerged a couple years ago via a single in Hozac’s Hookup Klub series, we heard a small constellation of points of reference in the record’s two sides. That’s not unusual as most young bands are a reflection of their collective record collections (or in this day and age, hard drives). But with their debut, self-titled full-length, Radar Eyes show that they’ve refined either their tastes or their output, as its 11 tracks reveal a cohesion and focus perhaps missing from the single.
I’m going to guess that it’s the latter, as Radar Eyes also exhibits the kind of je ne sais quoi that only comes from minds exposed to a wealth of influences. It’s probable that the band has been shaped by all manner of hazy sounds—from psych to shoegaze and beyond—heard either first- or second-hand, but their take is invigorated by equal amounts of pop sweetener and garage gunk. As such, this ain’t a bunch of moping around under sheaths of reverb and phaser. “Prairie Puppies” begins with icy bass tones before delving into a nettle of furry hooks. “Accident,” on the other hand, zips at the brisk pace set by drummer Shelley Zawadzki, with her cohorts—singer and guitarist Anthony Cozzi, guitarist Nathan Luecking and bassist Lucas Sikorski—creating a divine jangle of pounding riffs and ringing notes.
But while it is the pop flurries that elevate Radar Eyes over the rabble of garage also-rans, the record’s also gifted with moments of transcendental reverberation. “Secrets” finds the balance between repetition and tangental meandering, while “Side of the Road” is formed from a melange that meshes Suicide-like electronics with post-punk diction. As such, the record is much more than the sum of its components, each song in some way expanding the album’s collective scope. It is in this way that is most like those of the band’s luminaries (The Jesus and Mary Chain, Spacemen 3, etc.): an evolution of the fuzzy lexicon. With Radar Eyes setting the bar high, it is hard not to be excited by the prospect of future output from the young band.