Following the critical success of Saint Dymphna comes the band's debut on 4AD, Eye Contact. With the band's long time producer Chris Coady back on board, Eye Contact continues confidently in the increasingly melodic and song-oriented arc they've been tracing since God's Money. The collage of sonic touchstones and spatters of sounds from various corners of the world are still stitched into these very physical songs, but the band's ever more reliant now on dance patterns and the "purple" synths currently beloved by so many UK bass music producers. In turn, their use of lead singer Lizzi Bougatsos begins to feel more incidental, as though her voice is merely another element rather than its anchor (though, admittedly, there will always be those irritated enough by her urban bansheeing to ignore GGD completely).
Like the rest of their output, Eye Contact's intended for whole-set consumption, not track favoritism; theirs is rhythmic journey music—both in its heady drifts and its heated assaults—and it's intended to be swallowed in one 48 minute gulp. Eleven-minute opener "Glass Jar," for instance, simmers on dark side of the moon synth patterns for a couple of minutes before splitting into a swirling house jam propelled by new drummer Jesse Lee's heavy charge. "Chinese High" flirts with digital reggae as it opens until its Balearic-leaning bass submerges it into deeper, breezier territory. With its ravey synths and broke-hip strut, lead single "MindKilla" is the record's most tumultuous anthem, while "Sacer" finds GGD reclining into a fuzzy, contemplative groove that resembles Kate Bush at her haziest.
But Eye Contact's most surprising, and perhaps most arresting, moment arrives in the woozy, lovestoned R&B of "Romance Layers." With Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor singing alongside Bougatsos, the band crafts what may be an ode to the softer side of early '80s funk or maybe a playful wink at the same, depending on your read. Regardless of the band's intent though, it's a damn persuasive rendition of the sound and one of the album's true stepback creations. For a band that's spent so many years stuffing numberless genres and ethnic music nods into their sound, it's to their credit that they're still able to astonish us once in a while.