Friday, September 2, 2011

Einstein's Sister - Einstein's Sister - 1999

The debut album from Quad Cities' power popsters Einstein's Sister (originally released under the name Douglas and Tucker, the principal songwriting duo) is, as described by the band themselves, a "demo on steroids." Bill Douglas and Kerry Tucker were basically the whole band at this point, and while its clear that the blueprint for the Einstein's Sister releases to come was mostly in place, there are a few notable differences. The band's obvious musical touchpoints -- Elvis Costello, Squeeze, and XTC -- are all evident here, but there is significantly less focus. For example, "King in Name Alone" sounds just like Reckoning-era R.E.M., "Play God" and "My Own Country" are harder-rocking, Who-influenced numbers, and "Little Known Fact" pulls in the influences of oldies and blues. That's not necessarily bad, but it does show that the band hadn't quite yet found their voice. And then there's the "demo on steroids" part: the album is basically a collection of eight-track demos recorded with a rotating list of studio musicians to fill in the parts, meaning it occasionally lacks some of the cohesion found on later Einstein's Sister records. Overall, the whole thing comes across as a bit folksier and a bit rougher, but almost as charming and every bit as catchy as what would come later. -AMG