EAST OF ELI – “Child’s Play” (single review)
Much good music is born of great passion, and sometimes, of passionate conflict. Rumours would not have immortalised Fleetwood Mac without the internal dramas between Stevie and Lindsey. Lemonade would not have topped 2016 charts if it hadn’t been for Beyonce and Jay-Z’s collaboration on Crazy in Love thirteen years earlier. But these musical stories, and many others, bring their power from a place of pain and loss. One wonders— is it even possible for love recorded in song to avoid being tragically proven wrong? Nathan West seems to think so. Released under his musical project East of Eli, Child’s Play is an unfettered look at the frustrations of love and desire, with not a sour note in earshot. It’s a track that grows ever catchier the more its layers are revealed.
Child’s Play is a more marked departure from East of Eli’s folkier music of days past. The track follows on strongly from the upbeat and declarative Nowhere, which was released earlier this year. Both tracks feature West’s wife of fifteen years, Chyler Leigh, who is best known for playing Lexie Grey on Grey’s Anatomy and Alex Danvers on The CW’s Supergirl. Leigh’s presence in the breakdown of Child’s Play brings the song out of the realm of “thrill-of-the-chase” anthem into a legitimate commentary on navigating relationships, even if it does take a lot of tack from Maroon 5’s sultrier grooves. West’s music is nothing if not transparent; he doesn’t seem interested in sanitising his emotions or trying to tell others’ stories. He sucks the marrow out of mass-produced generic music and injects it with his own influence, and this shows not only lyrically, but also sonically.
The mix of noises is chaotic, from bass grooves to bluesy choral synth to beautifully nostalgic 2000s handclaps. But the track is so well mixed and the chaos so deliberate that West’s lyrics are never lost. It’s a danceable, youthful sound, confident and yet self-conscious. The prechorus tagline “No more games” seems an accurate descriptor of West’s musical assurance, so obviously drawn from his intentional examining and experience of relationships, life, and love. Child’s Play is a catchy indie-pop outing with the makings of a radio hit.