For Those Who Like: P.J. Harvey, St. Vincent
When we last heard from DOE EYE, the project of San Francisco’s Maryam Qudus, she had a released a stunning 6-song EP, Hotel Fire, a gritty indie rock album that recalled P.J. Harvey and the atmospheric sounds of Daughter. Deep bass grooves, stammering keys, and Qudus’ soaring vocals combined to create a mesmerizing sound on the EP, which resulted in some mainstream play including on MTV.
Now on Tuesday, DOE EYE will release her debut album, Television – one of our most anticipated albums of the year. But unlike many artists who may stick to a try-and-true formula, Television sees Qudus push herself to incorporate different genres and sounds, resulting in an eclectic array of music that can best be described as excitedly avant-garde or experimental.
The opening two tracks, “Do It for You” and “Diamond”, stick to DOE EYE’s past sounds – edgy, pulsating, mid-tempo indie rock tunes. “I Was Born on a Monday” has a lounge and R&B feel with his smokey, smooth harmonies over the sounds of a piano. It’s a song made for Twin Peaks.
“Desire” has a carnival-like feel with its interchange between chaotic, synth arrangements and subtle, keyboard grooves. It’s the one track on the album that is significantly different and new, and the chaos of the track perfectly reflects the mating dance many couples go through.
“Stay in the Past” and “You’ll Love Me When I’m Dead” are two other chaotic tracks, although more subtle. Similar to “Desire”, the jumbled melodies and rhythms reflect the feelings of loss and confusion that many experience when encountering something new or determining what one’s fate will be. The songs show a maturity in Qudus’ songwriting – using harmonies, rhythms, and tempos to effectively replicate the feelings people feel on a day-to-day basis, and often these feelings are contradictory – satisfaction, lust, hope, defeat, confusion.
“Untitled” is one of the stellar tracks on the album. Picking up the pace and with more prominent bass and drums, the song gives the sense of the thrilling feeling that one feels when one is starting a new adventure and “running away” from the past. The best track, though, might be “Shattered”. A melodic, dreamy synth-pop tune that builds on what DOE EYE does best – use heavy rhythms to create intensity in the song but at the same time create a dream-like state with Qudus’ vocals and the subtle inclusion of keys and synth.
It’s always satisfying to hear a young artist challenge herself and her listeners. While Qudus could have taken the easy route to create a catchy, formulaic pop album, she has instead opted to create a rather dense, complex album. If she continues down this path, she’ll be well on her way in being her generation’s P.J. Harvey.
You can purchase Television on iTunes and DOE EYE’s website and you can stream the album right now on PopMatters. Qudus and her band mates will be heading out on tour in May, playing mostly in the US West Coast and Midwest. Tour dates are below.
*Photo by Olivia Lee.
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