Denton, TX's dream pop duo Fight Bite consist of vocalists/keyboardists Jeff Louis and Leanne Macomber, who craft a synth and drum machine-driven haze reminiscent of late-'80s/early-'90s acts like Mazzy Star and This Mortal Coil (as well as contemporaries like Beach House, Vivian Girls). Macomber began writing what would become Fight Bite songs that didn't fit the mood of the louder, more rock-oriented bands she was in at the time; after seeing Louis' band Teenage Symphony play, she asked him if he would collaborate with her.
They began recording in 2007 and their first single, Swissex Lover, earned praise from blogs such as Stereogum and Gorilla vs. Bear. The band made their full-length debut, Emerald Eyes, available for purchase that summer, and it was officially released that fall.
Fight Bite first made a name for themselves in 2008 with their blog-beloved single "Swissex Lover", and that gossamer duet is still the standout: Macomber's whispery voice leaks into the shimmering keyboards, whose drowsy calliope tones are almost indistinguishable from Jeff Louis' faraway backing vocals. Most of the nine other tracks on the collection follow a similar formula: slow, haunting keyboard chords fill up the track leaving little room for the tinny percussion or watery, remote singing that spills into a wash of diaphanous melody. Specific lyrics are, therefore, hard to identify, but clearly these are bruised love songs, as the ache is palpable.
There are few tracks that rise above the album's purposely laconic pace, but those that do are among the collection's best. "Age of Faith", with its percolating "ba ba ba"s and Macomber's Shangri-Las-indebted spoken-word patter, is a welcome moment of levity, even if much of its bright coloring is buried behind a thick cloud of foggy reverb. "Widow's Peak" is a stinging tune built on a buzzing keyboard foundation that begins as videogame bleeps and evolves into a gothic carousel stomp. And "Small Wonder" raises the pulse of the rhythmically mannered record with almost-dancefloor-worthy beats and a melody that, despite being delivered in a glossy coo and cocooned in lovely harmony, can't help but remind you of the chorus to Rick Springfield's "I've Done Everything For You".
The main problem, however, with this charming album it's that it is too one-note. With not enough dynamic difference between them, the gauzy songs start to bleed together. But that's a rookie mistake. Fight Bite definitely have more songs in them like "Swissex Lover", and their moderately up-tempo numbers show a lot of promise. Perhaps on their next outing they will have developed enough confidence in their sound to stray outside its strict parameters. In the meantime, we have the analog warmth of Emerald Eyes-- a perfect hibernation soundtrack-- to keep us cozy during this chilly season.