After saying goodbye to long-time bassist Spencer Schoening, Vancouver-based indie rockers Said the Whale are back stronger than ever as trio Tyler Bancroft, Ben Worcester, and Jacelyn Brown, with a lush, polished, and mature fifth album.
As Long as your Eyes are Wide exhibits a brand-new sound and direction for the band, without repeating too much of their past discography—but at the same time tips a hat to where they’ve been. It’s dreamy, refreshing, and optimistic about leaving certain elements of their sound behind.
“Step into the Darkness” is the leading single on this album, and it’s one of the most powerful comeback songs from the band. The staccato electric keyboard throughout the verses and the profound bittersweet lyrics, especially in the chorus, really bring out the band’s colours. While it’s a poignant breakup song, it also acts as a commentary about Said the Whale saying goodbye to their past and looking forward to new things – no matter how hard it is.
There’s a few tracks that celebrate their past roots, without being repetitive. “I Will Follow You” sounds like something that would have belonged on 2013’s hawaii, save for the synth that ripples throughout the background of the track. It’s a nice blend of old and new coming together.
While “Step into the Darkness” is one of the best singles off this album, “Heaven” really steals the show. The chorus is chock-full of hooks and the hazy vocals blend into the nostalgic but euphoric tone instilled by the track. “Confidence,” in the same vein, adds an electric punch, complete with a synth solo for the bridge, that sounds like it belongs in an ‘80s new wave song. Both tracks are sure to be this summer’s anthems for Said the Whale fans.
“Miscarriage,” while one of the slower, more sobering songs, stands out the most. It starts with a slow piano accompaniment and ascends into a breathtaking burst of rippling electronic chords, as Bancroft sings in vivid and harsh imagery about his wife’s miscarriage. It evokes the pain of the subject so effectively, even listeners who have not gone through a miscarriage feel the emotional heaviness of the situation. The most beautiful part of this track is the explosive bridge, where Bancroft sings “It’s already our tomorrow/And the midnight sun it’ll drive us home.” This places an emotional through line into the theme explored in the rest of the album: no matter how much hardship they go through, there’s always a brighter side to every departure.
As Long as your Eyes are Wide makes the best out of goodbyes and growing up. Said the Whale has been a band for ten years, with five studio albums and a fan base as intimate as family, and they continue to move forward confidently as a band. This album is the embodiment of all the brightness their future projects will bring, and all the nostalgia of the places they have been.
“Step into the darkness”
“I Will Follow You”
(Feature Image: As Long as your Eyes are Wide, Hidden Pony Records)