Album Review: Eyedea & Abilities – By The Throat (2009)
Rating: 4 out of 5 Potholes
It’s been 5 years since Minneapolis duo Eyedea & Abilities dropped their sophomore LP, E&A, and they’ve been busy. Each artist had been busy on separate projects, igniting occasional rumors that this Rhymesayers tandem was no more. However, here we are in 2009 with their third and latest studio album, By The Throat. While on his small hiatus from major hip-hop activity, Eyedea was working with various alt-rock, and post-punk type projects, a change that is rather evident in By The Throat.
The production takes a more full route on this album than in the past; there are no longer any spare beats topped off with insane, tongue-twisting, lightspeed raps like on “Now”, however, Eyedea does channel that sort of flow for a brief while on “Sky Diver”. Abilities favors a more rock-oriented approach on this album, nearly every track is laced with distorted guitars and classic rock type structure of verse-chorus-verse (don’t mind the interludes). Overall, the production, though unconventional, fits seamlessly with what the duo wanted to bring forward with By The Throat, which is more or less a shout out to the number of problems and insecurities that many people face that can push people over the edge.
There is a slight uneasiness to the whole album, from Eyedea’s sickly singing on many of the hooks, to the actual words coming out of his mouth. The whole album seems a bit lucid as if it’s meant to leave your head spinning. Nowhere is this more apparent than on “Spin Cycle”, (fitting, right?). On “Factory”, Eyedea rips apart the various social constructs that people aimlessly follow, which can often lead to less-than-desirable circumstances. “Burn Notice” is another beautiful track full of dangerously vivid imagery.
However, the real treat on this album is the constant sense of optimism that pervades. Despite the dark messages, no track is left without a glimpse of salvation or light at the end, which really helps this album succeed. Be prepared to give this multiple listens in order to squeeze all the juice out of every song – it’s worth it – and at just under 30 minutes (even with 11 tracks!) you’ll have time for the repeat listens.