Sunday Drive’s Needle/Eye has a solid, guitar-based indie rock vibe, but the Dallas band’s third studio album does generic indie one better by being inventive on the skins. The disc chugs along quickly, with lots of snare drum on the downbeat (instead of relaxed in the pocket). The rhythmic interchanges indicate a dedicated band, but in the end, they’re overused. As a result, Needle/Eye is a little hard to follow.
The guys behind the novel stickwork are Grady Don and producer Matt Pence, the latter the drummer for Dentonite darlings Centro-matic. To say that Don is the next coming of Pence would be gross overstatement, but the Sunday Drive beat-maker has miles of potential.
As for the music, it hovers around the edges of pop — not too inaccessible, not too formulaic. The theme is the comings and goings of lovers. On “Love Machine,” over an uptempo, Spanish-inflected rhythm, frontman Ryan Thomas Becker proclaims that “Time will feed this freeway to love / Morning has come, and we’ve made up the years.” Balancing his joy is “Long Gone”: “I never found that place you mentioned / But I heard the stories and learned the lessons / Sometimes, I wish that you were still around / But that would probably just bring me down.”
Guitarist Jeffrey Gruber is a dynamic player. He complements the proceedings as often as he commandeers them. Bassist Clinton Hoyler holds everything together, even through the dozens of stops and starts — his playing’s simple yet occasionally creative enough to stand out. As on “Fighting Living Lies,” a good portion of needle/eye could have benefited from a stronger bottom — and a clearer direction.
Sat w/Eaton Lake Tonics at Black Dog Tavern, 2933 Crockett St, FW. 817-332-8190.