Meet Owl Eyes – a 20 year old Melbourne singer/songwriter who threads elaborate fantasies of escapism in fictional worlds into breezy, intelligent indie-pop songs.
On her debut EP Faces, Owl Eyes’ wide eyed imagination and heavenly vocal is brought to life through collaboration with Jan Skubiszewski, the acclaimed producer/composer who is one half of Jackson Jackson and has previously shaped records for Phrase and Cat Empire. From what was initially intended as a testing of the waters for a potential creative partnership, the two ended up with these five finished recordings in as little as four days.
Not to be falsely assured by her honey voice and sweet melodies, Owl Eyes’ songs depict some haunting themes. From the first moments of Faces, the opening title track’s alluring mystique tumbles us into a dark place too hard to find again. Her insecurities are embodied by stalking werewolves and hovering sinister characters and the running momentum is just enough to keep them one step behind.
As the EP progresses we leap from one dream to the next with Paper Planes teleporting us to an origami wonderland where Owl Eyes looks at the world from the outside in. Driven by its endearingly playful delivery and infectious piano bed, the other elements of Paper Plans are stylistically individual, paying a nod to both Owl Eyes and Jan’s disparate musical backgrounds.
We continue to break free with the seductive fun loving vocal of Dancer. Heightened by the swirling guitar loop, warm synth washes and programmed drummed beats, Dancer is an energetic pop song that’s simply about going out, letting go and having fun.
The mood lowers with 1+1’s smoky cabaret aesthetic, as if this sultry chanteuse is serenading a room of lonely souls moping over their glasses of red in a Parisian alley. It tells of the romantic rollercoaster of true love, soothed by the most gorgeous backing harmonies and a weightless orchestra that launches us amongst the stars.
The continual juxtaposition of tormented darkness and comforting cool is used to best effect with the EP’s closing track Fire Hotel. Here we’re locked away in a hotel suite with infinite ceilings and disappearing doors, taunted by hallucinations of illuminating fireflies. There is a captivating beauty in this moment of madness. As the lights dim to darkness the resonating lush texture of Fire Hotel continues to burn.
With a combination of starling vocal performances, enchanting instrumentation and the vivid lyrics of a mature songwriter beyond her years, Owl Eyes makes an impressive debut with Faces.