Review: eyeliner - brb (My Pet Flamingo)

This is the 5th album for New Zealand producer Luke Rowell under the name eyeliner. While the production is top notch, a lot of the ground that is tread on this record feels familiar...

Review: eyeliner - brb (My Pet Flamingo)
Album Art by Mushbuh

Review by Alyx Poska, from Episode 12 of the Podcast

On November 11th, My Pet Flamingo released the new album by eyeliner called “brb”. This is the 5th album that New Zealand producer Luke Rowell has made under the name eyeliner, and it was produced while he was still living in Hong Kong. It's title is a nod to early internet messenger culture and the circumstances around composing the album over the past 3 years.

Eyeliner had moved to Hong Kong for, what was originally going to be, a short stint but ended up stuck there for a few years because of the pandemic. The album’s title, which stands for “be right back”, is a cloying mix of irony and sincerity which is quite fitting for his anachronistic sound palette.

The album does have a cozy and homely feel, with lyrical melodies taking center stage for each tune. The preset-core synth sounds are warm and not overly cluttered, but it is stark in some parts with some tracks foregoing drums like “Upsides” and “Timelapse”.

Most songs have the full MIDI band treatment with bubbling FM pianos and motorik, synthesized drums. However, these sounds are not merely chintzy sounds of yesteryear- they are vibrant sounds, warmly nestled into eyeliner’s sound design and sumptuous reverb.

Music Video for the track "Baby"

All that said, while it conceptually and sonically touches a number of different moods- capturing certain auras like furiously browsing the early internet on “The Googler”- the overall tenure of the record doesn’t stand out in comparison to his earlier works. While the production is top notch, a lot of the ground that is tread in this record feels familiar. In the case of the song “Swank” it feels so familiar that I had to go listen to Seven Hours With You by Cat System Corp (which samples Tonight by Steve Harvey) because it was so similar melodically.

There are some flirtations with more classic vaporwave sounds, especially on “Bon Voyage” as well as other tracks that utilize interesting delay/echo like the title track “BRB”- a rousing polygonal jungle adventure replete with new age flutes!

While the album is an enjoyable listen, parts of it feel predictable if you have listened to eyeliner's other albums. Although his production stands out for its simplicity and pristine sonic qualities, perhaps eyeliner has hit a ceiling with this brand of utopian instrumental synth pop.

Check out the album over on the My Pet Flamingo Bandcamp or on Spotify

You can listen to the full review on Episode 12 of the Podcast or on YouTube: