Stockholm - Eyes in the Dark
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: June 25, 2012
When talent leaps from the speakers it is an incredibly difficult thing to stay quiet. And so it is that the Orlando new wave sextet Stockholm have released their full-length debut album. Co-produced by Rick Adams and the band, Eyes in the Dark is an engaging and impressive collection of 11 buoyant slices of ear candy.
Album opener "Don't Stop Now," bursts out of the gate from the get-go with driving guitars, towering vocals and an air-tight rhythm section. It is an absolute whale of a song and a surefire radio single. "Wildfire," is more danceable, synth-heavy and a bit more urgent. Sure enough, it is also radio-friendly and nothing short of irresistible. Eyes in the Dark's first big artistic statement is the near five-minute mid-tempo orchestration "Goodbye Tomorrow," a calculated and measured ballad that seems destined for the end credits of a big blockbuster movie. It is the first time at which vocalist Chris Arter shows off his falsetto and the band as a whole prove to be more than just an one-dimensional rock act.
The disc's first half ends with the Brit-inspired "Runaway," and its successor "Dream," which actually feeds off the last few seconds of "Runaway." "Dream," is languorous, gauzy and hazy, and another point at which the band sounds multi-dimensional. While the song starts off supple and light, it gradually builds, resulting in triumphant guitars and crashing drums. And rightly, the first half of the disc ends.
The second act opens with "I'm Coming Home," an acoustic-driven ballad about life on the road that is arguably as strong as anything else currently sitting on terrestrial radio playlists. While Eyes in the Dark has many apex moments, "I'm Coming Home," is most certainly one of them. Confident, sturdy and captivating, it is everything that makes Stockholm so worth listening to. The title track follows and it is a punchy and synth-heavy stab at arena-ready anthemic rock and it most certainly does not disappoint. Towering, brawny and wholly infectious it is another powerhouse performance from a band who so far has yet to do very little wrong.
The title track's follow-up is "The Young and The Free," a soaring five-minute epic in which Arter once again proves his vocal gymnastics and the band itself continues to prove their mettle. The Killers-inspired "This Love," follows and keeps things moving forward. The guitars are razor-sharp, the chorus swells and the rhythm section is without flaw. And while the song is arguably derivative, it still does and says more than the entire back catalog of many touring bands.
The LP's penultimate offering is the surefire single "Bad By Design," a song that draws on a synth-rock skeleton to craft a dazzling tale of lust and intrigue. Fittingly, Eyes in the Dark closes with arguably its strongest song, a piano-driven ballad entitled "The End," that is enveloping, delicate and nothing short of amazing. Quite simply, "The End," is the kind of song that needs to be passed around, adored and played endlessly. While they probably already realize it, the sextet has hit a real home run with this one. And that sentiment can actually be the blanket statement to summarize Eyes in the Dark.
As an album it is an absolute knockout. Armed with all the confidence and swagger of an arena headliner, it is the coming out party for a band that has the potential to land an army of singles on terrestrial radio. That the disc is as strong as it is no surprise. The band was once signed to Island/Def Jam before label politics squandered their shot at national exposure. Being that Eyes in the Dark is just the band's debut, and being that the band is still relatively young, there's little to reason to think their share of the national spotlight is not that far away. The record is an absolute juggernaut and Stockholm are a band more than ready for a career in their limelight.