The Four Eyes - Sweet Sounds! (Cover Artwork)

The Four Eyes

Sweet Sounds! (2005)


The comic book artwork of Sweet Sounds!, whether the Charles Atlas and Sea Monkey ads as liner notes, or the done-in-the-back-of-class comic that is included with the lyrics to "Ben Casey Saga," act as the perfect visual accompaniment to the Four Eyes' sound. Both are a mix of good-humored fun, nostalgia, and, well, nerdiness. The Four Eyes mix lo-fi power-pop and adolescent pop-punk with some noisy sampling and lyrics that represent the entire spectrum of nerd life. The bespectacled trio of geeks cover everything from Robocop and calculators to Altered Beast and taking nerd girls you meet in Radio Shack to Star Trek conventions.

Nerd rock may not be anything new, but the Four Eyes are definitely able to distinguish themselves. A number of tracks stand out (for better or worse) because of their abrasive noises or amped up samples. "The Pros" features swirling electronic sounds over its trebly rock, while the appropriately titled "Robocop (Gorillas and Machine Guns Version)" interjects samples of, you guessed it, gorillas and machine guns. Then there is the nearly 11-minute, 6-part "Ben Casey Saga," a distorted, jangly nerd opus that culminates in a rip-off of the melody from "Pachelbel's Canon." The Four Eyes may also consistently rock a guitar tone similar to early Built to Spill, but on songs like "THPS Rules" and "Old Milwaulkee" they turn up the fuzz for a more brash approach that owes more to early punk rock than anything else.

The Four Eyes' main fault, as is often the case with bands whose lyrics consistently go the humorous route, is that they can only be enjoyed in small doses. After repeated listens you will start to feel like you are being told the same couple of jokes over and over again. Quirky punch lines eventually become childish and annoying and even catchy melodies or upbeat tempos can't always save them. Sweet Sounds! is not the type of disc that will stay in your stereo for weeks, but if returned to every so often, it can be an enjoyable and light-hearted listen.