Eighty Ninety give us their best yet with self-titled debut

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Recommended Tracks: “Ruins,” “Gone by the Morning,” “Don’t Know It Yet”
Artists You Might Like:
Cade Hoppe, Lockyer Boys, Goldpark

Is it possible to figure out how love works? The couples who have been together for half a century probably don’t even have an answer. It seems like love is one of those concepts that is indefinable, unexplainable. It morphs, it evolves, it can push boundaries, surprise us, test us… There is no formula behind it, but there are plenty of lessons that we can take from its being. Over the years, indie pop duo Abner and Harper James of Eighty Ninety have attempted to analyze its ways, giving us thoughtful, beautiful songs in the process. The final result is their self-titled debut album, which demonstrates how love can leave us at our worst, place us at our best, and inspire us to work on ourselves and our relationships no matter what.

Have you ever looked back at an old relationship and realized it was better than you thought? Maybe the things that upset you were not so major, or the other person’s quirks were more endearing than annoying. On “2 Carat,” we hear about the questions, the guilt, and the regret that arises after a breakup, when it’s too late to get back together. Over splashes of pop melodies and colorful rhythms, Abner sings, “I still think of you more than you’ll ever know / I still can’t believe I let me let you go,” wishing that he could go back in time and choose this person. He also just wants to move on from these feelings, which comes across on “Gone by the Morning.” We get more electronic on this track, the electric guitar and skittered beats serving as an apt soundtrack to a reckless night out. As he chases after strangers and the feeling of comfort, Abner sings, “I’ve been thinking I don’t even know I want / Hate to be alone at night, so I say / We could drive, go wherever we want, start all over again,” hoping that the possibilities of being with someone, anyone, would drive away the loneliness.

After hearing those tracks, it is evident that love, or a lack of love, can tear you up – especially once you have experienced the good kind. On “Face Like a Sunset,” Abner sings about falling for those little moments you have with someone, which indicates that love is on the horizon. He expresses, “Here we are laying on the kitchen floor / And you’re the only thing I wanna see at night” and “I wanna know your secrets / I wanna know about the things that keep you up at night,” totally smitten. It is sweet to hear the devotion, as devotion is one of the driving forces of a relationship. When you start to see your life unfold with someone, and you choose to stay with them through the bad as much as the good, then you know it’s real. At over five minutes long, “Don’t Know It Yet” is the longest track on the album, but it flies by so fast. Throughout the track, Abner touches on sharing something real with someone, knowing that it was meant to be. Even though their life together is not perfect, it feels so right, which comes through when he sings, “But the way I feel is just way too real to have any other ending.”

It takes time to get to a special place like that with someone, but Eighty Ninety are more than willing to put in the work. With “Next to Me,” they give us a fast-paced and hopeful wish for a better future. The rhythmic sounds of tambourine, guitar, and drums move us along towards support and protection – two things Abner wants to give to this person if given the chance. We hear, “It won’t always be simple / But it’ll always be true / Like the things that you told me / And the way I love you,” bringing Abner to admit, “I wanna see you end up anywhere you wanna be / I hope it’s next to me.” His ability to see beyond the here and now to what could be is a theme that is found on a good portion of the EP, but it comes up the most on “The Hard Way.” It starts off a little forlorn and stripped back, mirroring the tender state of a relationship. Gradually, the instrumentation builds, blossoming into a solid indie pop production. It reflects the journey that a relationship takes, the weight that it can carry, which becomes more concrete through the lyrics. With a bittersweet edge, Abner sings, “So what if it breaks me into pieces? / What if you tear me life in two? / What if we say goodbye a thousand times / I’m still in love with you,” ready to commit.

Fans of Eighty Ninety are sure to connect with this album in the same way they connect to the band’s previous singles and EPs. The brothers create a rich yet soothing offering of music, from the indie folk stylings of “I’ll Be There” to the twinkling pop sounds of “Ruins.” One of the great aspects of Eighty Ninety’s music, however, is the lyrics, which play out like a personal confession or a diary entry. Abner and Harper are not afraid to be vulnerable, and vulnerability is a necessary aspect of art. I appreciate both the optimistic and pessimistic love songs on this project, too, but I mostly gravitate towards the tracks that emphasize working through issues and trying to maintain love; they round out the album and complete the story. Overall, this self-titled debut is a solid snapshot of Eighty Ninety, summarizing what means the most to them and preserving what they do best.

You can listen to Eighty Ninety on platforms like Apple Music and Spotify.

Keep up with Eighty NinetyInstagram // Twitter // Facebook // TikTok // YouTube // Website

Christine Sloman
Christine Slomanhttps://linktr.ee/christine.sloman
Writer for Melodic Mag since 2018. Music lover since always.

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