“I’m synthesised but profound” Eves the Behavior declares on ‘Electrical’, mirroring the tension between cold hardware and raw humanity that she successfully balances musically on her self-titled EP. Her shadowy synthpop singles have been receiving fanfare in her native Australia thanks to airplay from Triple J radio, and it’s easy to see why. ‘Electrical’ bursts upward into a thunderous chorus, triumphant and morbid simultaneously, with upbeat percussion clashing with visceral imagery of human construction: “I’m nothing more than skin and bone, with wires that make me tremble.” Buzzing synths are an apt backdrop for musings on humanity’s elemental ties with technology; Eves’ eloquent lyrics and dramatic delivery are thoughtful and passionate rather than inhuman, creating a dissonance that complicates the song’s seemingly simple construction.
Lyrically, the songstress remains reflective across this brief collection of tracks – three original cuts and a remix from Warpaint – especially on ‘TV’, a moody tune built around a clever observation that once again plays with the connection between technology and the human psyche. Eves finds her thoughts reflected on a character within the TV screen, stirred by the idea that not only has someone written what she is going through, but also by the uncomfortable realisation that perhaps her experiences are so universal that they can be easily scripted and re-enacted for the masses. With its rousing string-backed climax, it’s perhaps a tad overdramatic; I’m sure many people paint their own experiences onto their favourite characters*, making the exaggerated poignancy slightly redundant. Still, her precise poetic flare elevates the song’s message into something glorious, helped along by a wistful hook and smokey, contemplative verse vocals.
While her lyrics remain descriptive and wholly her own, the project feels nondescript to the point of beigeness instrumentally. The gloomy synths and reverb splashed drums are functional, but the clear parallels between Eves’ sonic palette and her contemporaries is slightly too overbearing. In the crowded room of alternative synth pop, flashy production draws the eye in away from the mess of blurred faces and greyish blobs. The oozing, seductive production of Banks, or the captivating vocals of Lorde do that well, but Eves appears to live in the shadow of her more bold contemporaries, and so her less impressive textures seem dull in comparison. Even on her stickiest hook on ‘Electrical’, I’m reminded of the cutting voice of Lauren Mayberry, which is no bad thing, but when it leaves me wishing for the colourful production of theBones of What You Believe instead, it becomes a problem.
Eves enters braver territory on ‘Digging’, with dissonant vocal effects, minimalistic verses and an eerie atmosphere. It’s a bold move, with an unconventional approach to pop songwriting, not afraid to sit in moments of discord before gliding into a chorus. Yet, the song’s separate parts don’t fully fit together, leaving the track feeling disjointed and unfinished. Nevertheless, the uncomfortable dissonance is admirably brave for a budding songwriter.
In this early stage, Eves has not fully come into her own as an artist, but with solid songwriting foundations and a cerebral lyrical flare, she is a writer full of promise.
*(Gene Belcher is my spirit animal if you’re wondering).