Album Review: Xray Eyeballs | Splendor Squalor

by Eliza C. Thompson

Splendor Squalor (out now on Kanine), the second full-length from Brooklyn-based Xray Eyeballs, finds the quartet in a much poppier place than they were on their first effort, Not Nothing. The raw, energetic sound backing O.J. San Felipe’s husky vocals is still present, along with the perfect blend of nostalgia for sounds of the past with a vision decidedly focused on the future. But if Not Nothing felt like a Velvet Undergound–hosted night of garage rock, Splendor Squalor evokes early Screeching Weasel or any number of those old, grungy, pop-punk acts backed by a new wave–obsessed guitar and synth section (most likely the influence of new addition Liz Lohse on guitar and synth). “Four” kicks things off with a fever-dreamy feel, underscored by a gleeful seediness you’d find only at the old Coney Island, setting things up for “Pill Riders” later on. San Felipe, founder of Brooklyn party-thrashers Golden Triangle, even offers up a cover of one of that band’s songs, “Cold Bones.” It’s a treat for fans of both, while also allowing for a moment of subtle contrast between the acts. “Summer Daze” ends the album with a chanted anthem to summer in New York, leading us out to the shore with lyrics like “Swamp ass, smoke grass…/Fire Island, fire hydrant/Montauk, flip flop.” It won’t be long now. 
-Melynda Fuller

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