Big Eyes Keep The Dream of ’70s Rock Alive

On their new album, ‘Stake My Claim,’ the band toughens up and suffers no fools

Big Eyes are one of those underrated, hardworking bands that seem incapable of putting out a bad album. Fronted by Kait Eldridge, once a member of the Brooklyn band Cheeky as well as playing briefly in P.S. Eliot, the group has an expert touch for ’70s-inspired rock in the vein of Cheap Trick’s early power pop and The Runaways’ punk. They might not be reinventing the wheel, but their classic-rock homages are excellent and refreshingly textured in 2016, when few indie bands shred this hard.

Their third record, Stake My Claim, to be released this Friday by scene mainstay Don Giovanni Records, is another tight collection of catchy, fast punk songs that fall just under three minutes apiece. Eldridge moved from to New York to Seattle back to New York again in recent years, and it sounds as though the city has toughened up her songwriting since their 2013 album Almost Famous. Pissed-off frustration runs through the record like a lightning bolt, as Eldridge sings of dissolved relationships and ditching sticky situations, constantly on the defense as she blows past enemies with snarling kiss-offs. She can somehow make a lyric as simple as “How many times can I explain this to you? I thought you’d get it but you don’t” sound like a sick burn.

On “Cheerleader,” Eldridge sings over an infectious guitar riff and tambourine clatter that she won’t be your cheerleader, your bartender, or your caretaker, urging her listener to pick up their own life. “Won’t be your cheerleader, singing that song, and clapping along, to everything that you say, go jump in the bay,” she says; it stings the same way it would if she'd told you “up your nose with a rubber hose.” Album highlights include “Giving It Up for Good,” on which Eldridge follows up her “I knew that I was never wrong” proclamation with an electric guitar solo reminiscent of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s “Blinded By the Light” solo, and the paranoid cabin fever of “Leave This Town,” which plays like an ode to pop-punk suburban angst, but will also call out to anyone who’s been stuck indoors watching Netflix for too long.