One glance at the album cover of the Eames Era’s debut LP, Double Dutch, will incite a number of assumptions about the kind of music held within. The jewel case contains a pastel pink and green booklet decorated with loopy cursive writing and two pudgy arms holding a jump rope. Girl pop, you think. Twee city. Songs about boys and sunshine. OK, you’re right. The Eames Era pushes twee girl pop about boys and sunshine, but it’s joyous and entertaining and highly aware of its limitations.
Lead singer Ashlin Phillips is backed by a quartet, all of whom met at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Guitarists Grant Widmer and Ted Joyner are high school friends originally from the Big Easy, and once they got to college they added Virginian drummer Greg Gauthreaux and Mississippi-born Brian Waits to the mix. Phillips, the only Northerner in the bunch, was the last piece of the Eames Era puzzle, and like a well designed chair (the band was named for famed furniture-making duo Charles and Ray Eames), the band fits together perfectly.
The Eames Era’s strongest lyrical moments come when they pepper somewhat clichï¿½d maxims with snark on songs like “Listen for the Sun”: “And when you talk like a fucker / It’s not what you said / It’s that you said it in a cynical tone,” Ashlin Phillips sings in her pretty yet unwavering voice. Phillips’ tone and delivery will draw many comparisons to Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley, but there is something sillier and less self-indulgent about Phillips voice, as Lewis sometimes borders on the maudlin. Double Dutch is aptly named, as many of the tracks have syncopated dance-y rhythms, perfect for jumping rope or skating round a rink. “Talk Talk” provides another juvenile highlight: “Talk talk all you ever say is blah blah blah (Talk talk all you ever say is nothing).” Pure, rollicking fun, the song makes you want to stick your tongue out at someone and/or moon them. So the Eames Era isn’t grown up. So what. Neither are most of you.
The Eames Era was scheduled to hit the road this fall, but the band’s car collided with a National Guard military truck near their Baton Rouge hometown on the eve of their tour kickoff. The band members were relatively unscathed considering the violence of the car wreck, but Ashlin Phillips needed several stiches in her face and guitarist Ted Joyner underwent surgery for his broken arm. The Eames Era is a resilient lot, though: They’ve already survived two hurricanes and will attempt to make up the tour dates by the end of the year.