A Review Of Einstein’s Sister’s ‘Humble Creatures’
Local band Einstein’s Sister will be in the spotlight with various stories every day throughout this week, leading up to the release of the band’s first single in almost two decades this Saturday, during Record Store Day, at Moline CoOp Records. The following story is from my blog, What The &^^%%& Is Sean Leary Thinking?, from Oct. 18, 2000. It’s a review of the band’s album, “Humble Creatures,” their last full album of new original material. The album is still available for sale on all online streaming formats, and can be found on our Spotlight page for the band. Enjoy!
When you’re a Quad-Cities act and you release an album that ends up on several national music magazines’ year-end top 10 lists — often placed higher on those tallies than records by your revered influences — you could perhaps be a bit intimidated by the prospect of a follow-up.
That was the circumstance area power-pop band Einstein’s Sister — guitarist/singer Kerry Tucker, singer Bill Douglas, bassist Andrew Brock, drummer Marty Reyhons and guitarist Steven Volk — found itself in after the success of the 1999 CD “Learning Curves.” The group’s third album earned it critical attention nationwide; a burgeoning cult following (which revealed itself during a successful stint at Los Angeles’ famed Troubador club during the International Pop Overthrow music festival); and airplay during programs on MTV, the Oxygen network and NBC. It was an enviable position for the band to be in, to be sure, but also a daunting one as well.
“It was difficult because after `Learning Curves’ was so successful and so many people liked it, we were like, `What do we do for an encore?”’ Mr. Tucker said.
The answer to that question, the brilliant new record “Humble Creatures,” is in local stores now, and it should continue the band’s momentum. “Humble” intersperses glistening power pop gems such as the XTC-ish “Dandelion Heart” and the Squeeze-flavored “Never Can Tell” with more daring fare such as the mournful, spartan “Beloved Infidel,” the ska-injected “Solar Circle Girl” and the Lennon-ish “Come On Pariah.” While lacking the exuberant musical knockout punch of “Curves”’ Beatles-informed song suite, “Creatures” is nonetheless packed with the group’s signature sophisticated song stylings girded by an indelible pop sensibility and polished to a fine sheen by the group and co-producer Tom Tatman.
“We’re really happy with it,” Mr. Tucker said. “(As for the sound and style of it), the album is pretty much what you’d expect from us.”
“Yeah,” Mr. Douglas added, joking. “It’s kind of a Radiohead-esque album.”
It may also contain what could become Einstein’s breakout single. Critics — including the music writer for the Los Angeles Times — have been tabbing the opening cut “Dandelion Heart” as a track bound for success. Ironic, considering that it was one of the most difficult compositions for the group to bring to fruition — so much so that it was practically excluded from the album.
“It’s the hardest song I’ve ever written with Bill,” Mr. Tucker said. “He gave me the lyrics and I wrote about five songs to it. Nothing jumped out at me. It was our last practice and I said we’re stopping here, and we’re taking everything in and that’s the album.
“About an hour before that deadline I was mowing my yard and the song just came to me, so I ran inside and played it out and Bill and I literally ended up writing the bridge about 10 minutes before we decided to make the cut for the final version of the album.”
The group’s upcoming agenda may include a video for “Dandelion,” and will definitely include a string of area live dates to plug “Creatures,” and beyond that, who knows?
“We’re just happy we got this one done and we’re able to go out to play these songs,” Tucker said. “We’ll see what happens in the future with anything else.”
“We’re just enjoying the moment, man,” Douglas added. “It’s very zen.”
Such humble creatures. Very zen indeed.