Tomorrow, Benjamin Verdoes releases The Evil Eye on Brick Lane Records. For Verdoes, a founding and continuing member of the Seattle-based internet sensation Mount St. Helens Vietnam Band (MSHVB) on Dead Oceans, it is his first venture into solo territory. I doubt I’m the first to say that Verdoes is just as powerful here as he has been throughout the MSHVB tenure. The Evil Eye is the first truly exciting album I’ve heard this year.
Catchy from the get-go, The Evil Eye doesn’t flirt with time changes; it foregoes that mathy element of MSHVB. Songs like “Evil Eye” and “When We Were Young” arguably have more pop drive than Verdoes’ other project. The title track is the first single off the new album, and after a few listens to the LP in full, others are very likely to follow.
Per Benjamin Verdoes:
The Evil Eye is a record I made for a beautiful person. It is a rebuttal to those seemingly powerful forces that tell you what you can and cannot do–the eyes that watch carelessly and tongues that move thoughtlessly in an attempt to describe and limit something that is spiritual and perfect. It is a love story.
Still, it isn’t without heartache. In “Two Shadows”, Verdoes sings You wanted to unravel, you wanted to escape / And here is a birthday, an anniversary… and here are the empty rings, the words of the songs you sing / The clothes that you left are hanging in the closet. But within the pain evident in Verdoes’ voice, there remains hope.
One of the more powerful tracks is “Under the Layers”, in which Benjamin Verdoes shares the stage with a female companion for a duet; I’m assuming the individual is Melodie Knight, who lends vocal talent elsewhere on The Evil Eye. The harmonies they create are powerful yet warming. That’s a common theme throughout The Evil Eye — it’s deeply introspective and highly personal, and while the catchy nature of the album has a seemingly simple nature, it is wrought with complex compositions, sophisticated arrangements and even a little experimentation familiar to fans of Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band.
Stream “Evil Eye” below and grab Benjamin Verdoes’ new album tomorrow.