September 8, 2016

LP: Big Eyes - Stake My Claim

Big Eyes is growing up and staking their claim.

Big Eyes' Stake My Claim is an album and a sentiment for your mid-twenties. The lyrics take a tough, sardonic attitude toward growing pains. It’s about being broken up but not broken, being uncomfortable when you go back to your hometown, finally telling loser boys to get lost, but still having a long way to go. The track “25” captures these ideas the best: “When I was 21, tryin' to loosen up /...25 and man I still don’t drive / Scared to find out to truth.” Stake My Claim isn’t about your awkward, early twenties when you try to have real fun for the first time; it’s about finally using all that character you built up staying up all night, kissing the wrong people, and, in the case of lead singer Kait Eldridge becoming an indie rock star and touring the world.

The 21 in “25” might be referring to Eldridge’s age when she started Big Eyes in 2009. Before her own band, she played briefly in PS Eliot with Katie and Allison Crutchfield, who would both go on to their own indie punk fame. With Big Eyes, especially the new album, Eldridge has gone in a harder, more punk and classic rock inspired direction than her ex-bandmates. To put it bluntly, Stake My Claim is hardass, brazen and wanderlust-y. Big Eyes has a knack for making the petty sound epic. “Curse of the Tides” and “Cheerleader” elevate their simple themes with driving guitar that strikes a balance between grungy and glam. Eldridge brings a punk drawl to cheeky (coincidentally, a name of an old band of hers) lyrics like “It takes a lot of guts / To try to change my mind / When my mind has been made up / So make this worth my time” and the pithy wisdom that makes up the choruses of her songs: “Can’t fix what’s just not right.” Stake My Claim is an album about being uncomfortable in the world: “The switch is flipped / I’m making it worse / TV and cellphones are a modern curse,” we’re told in “Leave This Town.” It’s about rejecting and being rejected. But there isn’t a moment of gloom or doom - only attitude. It hearkens back to bad-attitude rock by women like Joan Jett or Patti Smith, but it also gives a welcome tweak to the ultra-sensitive, sad girl sound and lyrics of indie punk of the past few years. I’ll listen to it on the way back into the city from my hometown, to get psyched for fighting through another day of my 25th year.


Listen to Big Eyes on bandcamp.

Simone Wolff lives in NYC with their grandma, best friend, boyfriend, snake, spider, and two cats. They’re a Cancer sun, Gemini moon, and Capricorn rising.