Eight first roared out of Athens,
Georgia in the
early ‘90s with I Learned Shut Up, it
was with an explosion of manic-depressive angst and hooky guitar fury that
betrayed more nervous energy than a 14-year-old shotgunning espresso before his
first date. Subsequent releases dialed bandleader Mike Mantione’s boil back to
a simmer – some called it welcome maturity, others enervation.
years later, Your God is Dead to Me Now attempts a balance between the early work’s mania and the later LPs’ even keel,
with mixed results. Blazing rockers “Get Out of My Head” and “I’m a Wreck” are
undone by clichéd lyrics and forced angst, but the equally loud ‘n’ proud
“Staring Contest” and “Scout Knot” hit the sweet spot perfectly. Measured
midtempo pop tunes “Sad Eyes” and “Ode to Massachusetts” drift by without leaving an
impression, but the title track and the beautiful “What Can One Man Change?”,
while sharing a similar aesthetic, hit home with unerring accuracy. The
slide-guitar frosted ballad “The Ballad of Frankie Jr.” explores territory the
band has rarely visited before.
clear, unfussy production and Mantione’s wavery croon at its most passionate,
the record sounds great whether the songs stick or not – purely as a listening
experience, Your God is Dead to Me Now is one of Five Eight’s most consistent LPs, and when the songwriting mojo fires
on all cylinders, it’s a wonder to behold.
DOWNLOAD: “Your God is Dead to Me Now” “What
Can One Man Change?,” “Staring Contest” MICHAEL TOLAND