Supergroups usually suck -- they're like new TV shows starring old Seinfeld cast members. Sure, we used to love them, and, yeah, they've brought us a lot of joy over the years. But, really, enough already, stop. Why bother trying to recapture the past when it's already passed you by?
And yet, Eyes Adrift is a cohesive threesome, despite the band's awfully shopworn parts. Considering that its members hail from the Meat Puppets, Nirvana, and Sublime, you would be justified in imagining the worst: a cynical spinoff heavy on grunge nostalgia and alternative-ska longing. But on Eyes Adrift, Curt Kirkwood, Krist Novoselic, and Bud Gaugh play with a relaxed charm and flow that acknowledges that maybe they can't top their well-established history but, well, they'll try to have a little fun, regardless. Much like another '90s supergroup -- the Pearl Jam/Soundgarden one-off Temple of the Dog -- Eyes Adrift combines the strengths of the individual components in order to dream up a parallel reality unencumbered by the limitations of a now-familiar sound.
Because Kirkwood handles most of the singing, there's an undeniably strong Meat Puppets undercurrent to these moody, melodic songs. Free of the expectations of genre and reputation, however, Kirkwood and the group branch out into styles at times funkier and breezier than they've ever attempted. Eyes Adrift has a playful looseness that easily could have dissolved into self-indulgence if the tunes stank -- except they don't. "Pyramids" glides along on a sweet wave of romantic wistfulness, while bassist Novoselic's "Inquiring Minds" openheartedly pays its respects to the late JonBenet Ramsey without irony. Even the guilty pleasures inherent in the heavier-than-heavy sludge riffs of "Telescope" don't confine Eyes Adrift to the time capsule. Throughout, the band moves with purpose and focus, anchored ably by Gaugh's drums.
Because so many unsigned, unheralded, amazing bands are out there, desperately needing a break, it's almost obscene to champion the pet projects of famous footnotes out to steal valuable record-store shelf space. Be that as it may, Eyes Adrift does a commendable job of unassumingly surprising you again and again on its debut. If groups like the Vines can rob the tombs of Seattle, shouldn't some of the original inhabitants at least get their say, too?