From the very first bars of its six-song debut, Austin’s Glass Eye staked out an utterly distinct spot on the cusp of pop and the avant-garde. With edgy vocals over herky-jerky rhythms and, slithering under it all, Brian Beattie’s groaning, jazzy fretless bass lines, the quartet’s music is sparse, angular and seemingly immune to genre divisions.
Guitarist Kathy McCarty’s plaintive vocals wear a bit thin on Marlo (Beattie sings one song), but there’s already ample evidence of daring songwriting that straddles the line between artiness and genuine fun and emotion. An acoustic piano provides a welcome counterpoint to the plinky electronic keyboards.
Drummer Scott Marcus and keyboardist/singer Stella Weir left after Huge and were replaced, respectively, by Dave Cameron and Sheri Lane for the ambitious Bent by Nature and Christine. Two of the EP tracks are on the album, and all five are on the CD, including the intriguing Latin essay of “Perder la Guerra,” the goofy metallic “Ballad of Abraham Lincoln” (“oh, how he hated to shave!”) and a cover of Paul Simon’s “Cecilia.”
In a surprising turn, Marcus and Weir rejoined Glass Eye prior to Hello Young Lovers. The reconstituted group’s unique sound isn’t very different, although richer and more fleshed-out this time. (The democratic songwriting and increased instrumental versatility doesn’t hurt any.) Most importantly, Glass Eye continues to come up with lovely melodies, challenging rhythms and affecting lyrics, on stunning tracks like “God Take All” and “The Crooked Place.”
Outside the group, McCarty contributed a solo cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Living Life” to the 1989 Bar/None sampler, Time for a Change. Weir and Marcus also play in a band called Prohibition, while Beattie has produced LPs for the Dead Milkmen and Ed Hall. In late 1990, Glass Eye launched a spoof-metal side project under the name Mönikker.