Track by Track: Water From Your Eyes—’Somebody Else’s Song’

Posted: by The Editor

Photo by: Julie Orlick

Water From Your Eyes‘ music is the midway point between dancefloor post-punk, insular krautrock, and sing-songy synth-pop. The Brooklyn duo likes to jerk the wheel between three or four different styles and tempos on their records, and every detour they take on their latest, Somebody Else’s Song, leads somewhere cool. Arriving less than two years since their great 2018 record, All a Dance, this new one, which we’re premiering below, doubles down on each of their varied interests. “Break” is a near-10 minute krautrock song with a rumbling drum beat and chugging away behind Rachel Brown’s serene, drawn-out vocal intonations. “No Better Now,” the song that immediately follows, is a straight-up pop cut that starkly switches the mood from mechanical to lifelike.

However, although the album is so sonically frenzied, there’s a ton of intention behind the tracklist, the arrangements, and lyrics. We had Nate Amos and Rachel Brown break down each song below. Stream the record while you read about each track:

1. “Somebody Else’s Song”

Nate: “Somebody Else’s Song” is a combination of two unfinished This Is Lorelei tracks from Summer 2017. It serves as an alternate take on “Bad in the Sun,” for which the two tracks were combined and finalized in August 2018. The song, which deals with the process of losing a close friend, pairs two diary entries. The verses come from dreams and the chorus from reality. This dream-reality relationship is a recurring album theme (see “Look Again”). Unlike “Bad in the Sun,” this version of the song is hyper-focused on the vocals and melody, with the backing track consisting only of a simple guitar loop and foot taps, a method later reflected in “This Is Slow.” The track’s purpose is to acclimate the listener to the general pacing of the album, while also lulling them into a sense of calm before the initiation of “Break.”

Rachel: This song reminds me of summer camp. I don’t know what it is about this song, but I can’t help but think about a bunch of awkward eleven-year-old’s sitting around a campfire and wondering if the kid next to them thinks that they’re weird. Anyways, this song was strange to record because I had no part in writing any of it. I am quite literally singing somebody else’s song. It’s kind of funny if you think about it. But I guess if you think about it any further, it’s actually just very sad.

2. “Break”

Nate: “Break” was composed in October 2018 with lyrics finalized and recorded in February 2019. Providing an immediate contrast to “Somebody Else’s Song”, the track is an explicit display of noise and dissonance incorporated into an elongated pop format. Thematically, the song deals with total darkness, caves, dancing, claustrophobia, the rush of an escape, and a question as to whether an individual manifests their own surroundings or simply interacts with them. “Break” is heavily influenced by the later work of Scott Walker, starting as an exercise in working with what he describes as “blocks of sound”. It is the inverted counterpart to “Freaking Me In” by This Is Lorelei, both songs dealing with the same musical and lyrical themes (see “Break / Freaking Me In” split single).

Rachel: I love this one. I think it’s one of our most directly dance-centered songs, including the lyrics. Whenever we play it live it feels like I am politely—and perhaps a little vaguely—telling everyone to dance. Although it always feels like a very distant, disconnected dancing, in that we’re all in the same room, but we’re not dancing together. Does that make sense? In other (completely unrelated) words, it gives me the feeling of walking alone down an empty street right after it rains, with the streetlights reflecting off the puddles, and everything is completely still. 

3. “No Better Now” 

Nate: “No Better Now”, the final track on Side A, is another intentional shift of pace. The song was part of an unfinished yet fully composed album from July 2017 that was scrapped towards the beginning of the lyric-writing process (as is the case with “Adeleine” and “This Is Slow”). The lyrics were written and recorded in February 2019, one and a half years after the the music and melody. “No Better Now” is a melancholy summer song that deals with loneliness and alienation. Having achieved a goal and feeling only accelerating aimlessness, trying to find some sort of solace in emptiness, and the reminder that emotional movement manifests from within more often than it is sparked by reality.

Rachel: I’m not allowed to talk about the true inspiration behind the lyrics of this song. If you knew, you’d probably understand why Nate has decided to bury the origins. I won’t forget, though. This song is probably my favorite, as I love a classic car reference song. I think this song is very much a “driving into the sunset and leaving everything behind” kind of song. Or perhaps a “sitting on one’s porch at sunrise, taking in the vast landscape, completely alone, since you sacrificed the things you held most dear to you” song. Either way.

4. “Look”

Nate: “Look” is the wordless version of “Look Again” and serves as the opening bookend of Side B. Initially recorded in December 2018, the album version consists of a four-part harmony sung by Nate triggered to Rachel’s performance of the melody through a vocoder. Another exercise in dissonance, “Look” and “Look Again” are crucial to framing the traditional melodic content of the three tracks in between.

Rachel: Kind of spooky, lol.

5. “Adeleine” 

Nate: “Adeleine”, like “No Better Now”, was composed for the unfinished album in July 2017, with lyrics eventually being written and recorded in February 2019. The track was intended to be an irregular but archetypal pop song, inspired by an interview in which Randy Newman describes good songwriting as having to be “both fresh and inevitable”. The song balances an odd chord progression length and polyrhythmic guitar solos with an pulsing groove and accessible melody. The upper octave repetition of “Adeleine” at the climax of the song is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the vocal stylings of Bono, Sting, and other 80’s pop rock singers that only have one name.

Rachel: First things first, this song is sick. A real banger, as some say. Secondly, I like to imagine Adeleine as this impossibly fleeting and mysterious to a fault kind of person. Someone who always leaves before you ever get a good sense of who they are, but gives you just enough for you to form this whole concept of who they are or worse, who you could potentially be to them. You end up getting consumed by this idea of the person, until you feel absolutely gutted for no real reason because you realize that you never even knew them to begin with. They were a temporary solution to the inherent emptiness that you’ve carved out in yourself. And every single time you think you’re walking away, you catch a glimpse of them in your peripheral vision, and there you are again, endless chasing an illusion.

6. “This Is Slow”

Nate: “This Is Slow” is the only track from the unfinished album with lyrics from July 2017, and was originally a pair of songs designed to bookend the project. The track (unlike “No Better Now” and “Adeleine”) was entirely reworked and rerecorded in December 2018 to be an aesthetic reflection of “Somebody Else’s Song”. The same minimal accompaniment is utilized to allow for increased focus on the vocals. The lyrics deal with the emergence of bittersweet realities and the nature of tense romantic relationships in television shows.

Rachel: This song also gives me campfire vibes, for whatever reason. Strangely enough I’m pretty sure I also had nothing to do with writing the lyrics for this song. This album was weird to work on, since most of these songs were either This Is Lorelei songs that Nate had already written, or Water From Your Eyes songs that Nate had written at the beginning of us living together but that we’d never followed through on, and by the time we were recording, things had drastically changed in our lives and between the two of us. At this point for the better, but at the time, it felt a little weird singing what felt like a break up song about myself.

7. “Bad in the Sun”

Nate: “Bad in the Sun” is the primary version of “Somebody Else’s Song”. While the lyrics are virtually the same, there are two additional lines: “oh, hello hello hello” and “no, don’t ever ever go”. The extra lyrics serve to welcome the audience in a live setting, but also humorously acknowledge the balance of a failing relationship with a positive evolution. Musically, the song is designed to be the climax of the album, methodically building a wall of carefree denial-based euphoria to be ripped down by “Look Again”.

Rachel: I don’t know if Nate planned on acknowledging the fact that when we recorded this album, we had been going through a long transitional process, trying to maintain our friendship and musical partnership despite ending our relationship. Clearly, I really have nothing to say about the music so I guess I’ll be the one to divulge. When we recorded this, and when Nate was writing the music, we were living together, working together, and trying to keep our heads on straight until our lease ended knowing that our relationship was over. This song hurts, especially the part about losing your best friend. Not that Nate and I aren’t still best friends, but things are a little different, obviously. Honestly, I’m just glad that we can still do this, because making music together means the world to me. It was one of the defining parts of how we spent our time together, and it’s something I’d like to be able to do forever. This song is particularly funny to me because I have a tendency to forget the words to our songs. Anyways, I’m glad Nate let me sing it. I’m glad we made this album. Glad to be in the band.

8. “Look Again”

Nate: “Look Again”, the primary version of “Look”, is the closing bookend of Side B. The two tracks serve as a counterpoint to “Somebody Else’s Song” and “Bad in the Sun”, similarly exploring the relationship between dreams and reality, but through the lens of a directly depressive mindset. The lyrics describe a yearning for stimulation even when it’s horrifying, a need to look and look again even though it damages you. Meant to be a curve ball at the end of the album, the track’s purpose is to strip away the positive energy masking the real content of “Bad in the Sun” and put the remains under a microscope. The song is heavily influenced, once again, by Scott Walker, and is aesthetically a nod to “Blanket Roll Blues” (the eighth and final track on “Climate of Hunter”).

Rachel: Cobwebs, am I right? This song feels like the house at the end of the street that has overgrown brush and all the older kids on the block insist is haunted and that the ghost is going to get you if you wander too close. This song sounds like a Boo Radley song, but at the beginning of the book before Scout sees past her superficial fear. But seriously, this song is cobwebs all over.

Somebody Else’s Song is out 10/25 via Exploding In Sound Records. Pre-order it here.

Water From Your Eyes will be playing a handful of East Coast shows within the next few weeks. Dates here:

10/26 – Brooklyn, NY @ DRTYSMMR
11/01 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Vat
11/03 – Washington, DC @ Cradle
11/07 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rubalad w/ Palberta, Sweet Baby Jesus, & Fantasy (Album Release Show)  
10/26 – Brooklyn, NY @ DRTYSMMR
11/01 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Vat
11/03 – Washington, DC @ Cradle
11/07 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rubalad w/ Palberta, Sweet Baby Jesus, & Fantasy (Album Release Show)  

Eli Enis | @eli_enis

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