September 3, 2015

LP: eskimeaux - O.K.

Listening to eskimeaux is all you need to feel O.K.

I'm sitting in my apartment listening to eskimeaux’s recent full-length record, O.K., on repeat. I can’t figure out how to feel. I just know that I do feel, and that in of itself is entirely validating. Sensing a tinge of nostalgia, I burn through a pack of yuzu crackers from Japan. This mess of a room clotted with broken ¼ inch chords and stuffed to the corners with my own young adult angst makes the place feel like a small box. Listening to O.K. feels like finally stepping out, not as in a walk around the block or a smoke on the porch but a trip away from the city, a movement to recuperate and reflect. I feel moved to go visit my parents and tell them I care. Or maybe I should just pick-up journaling after a decade-long hiatus. I’m not sure, I’m just feeling.

A thoughtful musician can reference a very personal experience and still conjure feeling in the listener, and Gabby Smith of eskimeaux achieves this with O.K.. I’ve never been to the Brooklyn Museum and made someone feel sad by something mean I said, but I still return again-and-again to the song “Thanks,” my heart palpitating at every chord change. I'm rarely comfortable with my emotions, and perhaps as a womyn within the music world I feel an obligation to play strong even when I feel like breaking. eskimeaux’s O.K. gives me unhinged room to feel. As a womyn, as a musician, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the right to feel. The album begins with “Folly”, an epic song that combines controlled electronic drums with grunge rock lead guitars. The song opens the listener to a confluence of melodic pop, rock, and electronic, setting the standard for the rest of the LP. The merging of different sound classes isn’t forced. Instead, eskimeaux eases us into the composition, pairing dance synth sounds with effortless vocal melodies and blurring electronic beats with a live kit. Upholding electronic tropes, “Everything You Love” features arpeggiated synths and eighties style delayed beats for a dreamy affect. Yet positioned with dry clear vocals, the song is far from dream pop, closing with a rock—almost drum-line—style live kit drums. eskimeaux's sound is bedroom pop without the bedroom walls.

After a cascade of hard-rock-earned feels, the album ends with “That’s O.K.,” a track featuring Gabby's bare voice and lightly picked guitar. The song has a similar effect as “Last Words of a Shooting Star,” the final track on Mitski’s Bury Me at Makeout Creek. They both leave us believing in willful complacency. “All I want is to hear you say ‘we’re not the same but that’s O.K.’...’Cause I want you and you want me to and that’s all we have to do, ” eskimeaux concludes. We feel the way we do. We love the way we do. We do what we do. And we’re still doing our best. We feel complex and contradictory ideas and that’s O.K. As young people bordering adulthood and filled with doubt—being O.K. isn’t too bad at all.


Listen to Eskimeaux on

Rachel Ishikawa performs solo as Shakai Mondai, and as 1/5 of the band Peaks. She's trying to show bad cat Andie how to love.