Eyesore and Isolation (Garden Variety Gods)

Cousin Gabriel 

Eyesore and Isolation (Garden Variety Gods)

Being the jump-to-conclusions pain in the ass that I am, I was ready to heap equal parts praise and scorn on Cousin Gabriel -- the praise for some relatively refined work, the scorn for a tad too much effort in the We're (Trying to Be) Mysteriously Tortured department. But as Eyesore made its revolutions, it grew on me -- like clinical depression or a melancholy breed of fungus. The band's second full-length effort is still a wee more pretentious than it needs to be, with overwrought song titles such as "Beauty in the Shape of Fading Forms" and wistful lyrics waxing about whispering winds and the like. But even with somber explorations that echo a mesh of stock influences like Elliott Smith, Radiohead and the Smiths, Cousin Gabriel gives its consistently cloudy days some silver linings. Eyesore begins with the contagious guitar wiggle of "Welcome to Happiness" and reaches high-water marks with the relatively upbeat "Painted Sky" and the aforementioned "Beauty," a gentle stroll along another relationship gone -- what else -- wrong. Perhaps the best surprise is "Normal," which stomps down the well-trod road of conformity but does manage a little punk snarl in offering a cogent description of suburban angst that resonates far deeper than Limp Bizkit looking for something to break.

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