In this era of bling-bling hip-hop and ultra-calculated teen pop, sometimes it’s just great to hear—and kick back to—an album that doesn’t have any pre-fab designs on your pocketbook. A record that appears to exist simply as well-conceived catharsis for its creators. Looking to be this decidedly disarmed? Look no further than Room Noises, the almost ABBA-lovable debut from home-schooled Texas family band Eisley. One listen and you can’t keep yourself from surrendering—the disc sounds so serenely beautiful, so unusually assured that it’s difficult to believe the group’s oldest member, guitarist Chauntelle DuPree, is only 22.
In fact, the album’s focus is so uniform, so consolidated, it’s downright scary. Granted, it’s produced by pop-minded ace Rob Schnapf. But there’s much more happening in the DuPree genealogy than Schnapf can take credit for. Vocals bounce between co-guitarist Sherri and her keyboardist kid sis Stacy, 15. And the melodies on sing-song tracks like “Memories,” “Telescope Eyes,” “Marvelous Things” (culled from a pair of earlier EPs) and the Beach Boys-like “Golly Sandra” feel like some old Victorian-era music box wound at half-speed.
There’s a delicate, fragile atmosphere about these DuPree numbers (with family friend Jon Wilson, 20, on bass)—like they could be instantly shattered if the CD case isn’t handled correctly. Brought up in a religious East Texas household, these youngsters don’t proselytize. Instead, the songs wind up as relatively gregarious, non-sectarian takes on life in general—nothing too finger-pointing, nothing too safe, either. Maybe it’s all that home schooling from their road-manager dad, Boyd.
But Eisley has developed its own unique, almost anti-populist sound, and a healthy, inquisitive sensitivity, to boot. These whippersnappers might’ve encountered dogma growing up, but they’re wise enough to explore it and map out its pro/con parameters as budding adults. Are there answers on Room Noises? No. In the same way you won’t find any answers on ABBA’s Arrival. Sometimes you just have to relax and let the music wash over you, taking with it all those faux-art pretensions.