The latest in line from The Epoch camp to put a more-professional spin on their personal catalog, Eskimeaux‘s Gabrielle Smith has been honing her craft over the past few years (and locations) through a series of Bandcamp demos. Many of which will appear on her and her band’s upcoming LP, O.K. The significance of the band is worth mentioning, as they share duties amongst most of the Epoch releases. Like the indie-rock equivalent of The Funk Brothers or The Mar-Keys, Smith is backed by Bellows’ Oliver Kalb, Told Slant’s Felix Walworth, and Sharpless’ Jack Greenleaf—all of whom also perform as each other’s backing bands for their own projects. Which is likely why a song like “Broken Necks” (and most of Eskimeaux’s catalog to date) resonates so well beyond the context of her strong musicianship.
The song’s pop transcendence careens off a melancholy cliff with the closing line, “Nothing in this world is holier than friendship,” one she says was written by someone she shared a musical bond with who was often sick to the point of hospitalization. Trying to encapsulate “feeling simultaneously in love and helpless to fix them,” she told Stereogum:
“Broken Necks” was kind of the final hurrah of that dialogue, my way of trying to break it off. Some of the lyrics are actually from a song that the other person wrote: “Nothing in this world is holier than friendship”—I was using them in an attempt to remind them of positive, hopeful feelings they had had within the negative stuff that was going on surrounding our relationship.
Ironically, this same line aptly applies to where Smith and her Epoch cohorts are today. Presuming they’re all friends of course, their relationship is the backbone of their individual successes. The growth of “Broken Necks” from a solo demo to its beautiful, fully-realized form is only the latest sonic representation of that “strength in numbers” mentality.
I used to jokingly classify the Brooklyn-based collective’s earnest pop leanings by suggesting they would be responsible for the next Garden State soundtrack. But a string of stellar, inter-band releases, new collaborations with different labels and even a Lincoln Center documentary has me rethinking that clumsy description.
I now expect them to be responsible for the entire movie.
Eskimeaux’s O.K. will be released on May 12 via Double Double Whammy. You can stream “Broken Necks” below.