Water From Your Eyes: “Barley”

“One two three four/I count mountains,” Water From Your Eyes’ Rachel Brown numbly intones on the experimental rock band’s latest single, “Barley.” It’s a mantra that evokes a Sisyphean quest, soberly taking in all of the craggy terrain you still have left to scale, or else a sleepless night tallying sheep. Discordant and jittery, the song is a little St. Vincent, a little Deerhoof; its herky-jerky guitar riff hurtles along uneasily while a blenderized synth swirl cuts in like an intrusive thought and a shrill, buzzer-like drone jets off like a firehose. 

In between touring with seemingly every band ever (SpoonInterpolPalm), releasing their own respective solo music, and pitching John Wilson to direct their music video, Water From Your Eyes found time to write and record a new album, Everyone’s Crushed, arriving via Matador in May. While the lyrics are abstract and dissociative as usual, the band indicates that “Barley” is loosely about “futile attempts at attaining the unattainable,” and it’s accompanied by a music video in which Brown and Nate Amos play corporate workhorses biding their time under capitalism. Is the song a commentary on their own career, their exhaustion always trying to ascend to the next level as musicians? Does the pattern break near the end—“one two three eleven”—indicate the possibility of disrupting the cycle? No clue, really. But it sounds sick.