Albums are like women: The classy ones don’t put out on the first date. Even when our favorite records strike a chord instantly, it’s only through repeated listening that they endear themselves fully. They grow with us, and we with them. So it goes with Thracian, the debut LP by Los Angeles duo Eagle and Talon. On first spin we perceive an uneasy marriage of girl group sass and scrappy art-rock abstraction. Successive listens reveal a band with a refreshingly skewed take on indie rock songcraft that twists its lo-fi secrets into half-inflated balloon animal shapes. To paraphrase that douchebag that ruined my chances of making out with Zooey Deschanel: You gotta spend some time with Thracian, and it will possess your heart.
The undercurrents run deep on Thracian. Guitarist Kim Talon sets slashing riffs against wiggly guitar lines or tinny Casio keyboards, tugging at sweet melody with disturbing dissonance. Alice Talon’s drums click in strange, simple patterns like the whirring gears of a grandfather clock. The pair’s crisscross vocals — schoolgirl earnest on “Hot Caught,” Erase Errata screechy on “The All Best,” Björky and ecstatic towards the end of “One Lark” — tussle and echo off each other like the overlapping lines of a Robert Altman film. They deliver encrypted lyrics that call on mannequins and abominable snowmen and facial moisturizers to conceal meanings.
Some pretty direct hooks fly through Eagle and Talon’s obliqueness, in the form of frantic rock guitar breaks (the chorus to “All of my Guardians”) and oddly memorable turns of phrase [“My face is itchy all the time” from “Moisturizer (Wheat Calls)”]. Much like Q and Not U, the band gets great mileage out of turning post-punk rhythms into stripped-down funk tunes, too (“Tight Score”). But Thracian mostly takes place in the intersection of the clear and the clangorous, the human sexy and robot harsh. Which is a pretty nice place to be. Just takes some time to get there.