Music & Nightlife

Charlotte’s the Eyebrows release bright, quirky debut following years of turmoil

The Eyebrows will perform at Snug Harbor on Saturday night.
The Eyebrows will perform at Snug Harbor on Saturday night.

If you know the stories behind the Eyebrows’ debut full-length album, “Volume” — which the Charlotte power-pop trio celebrates the release of Saturday at Snug Harbor — it’s easy to start reading between the lines.

There are references to light, dark, sight and eyes, specifically lines about frontman Jay Garrigan’s experience with a botched LASIK surgery that nearly blinded him. It was the latter that silenced the longtime Charlotte rock musician’s musical muse and sent him into the least-creative period of his life.

“I’ve never been through physical pain like that,” Garrigan says. “I was trying to figure out how to keep my job. ... I really thought I wasn’t going to be able to see.”

As a side effect of his condition — chronic corneal erosion — he suffered painful, sleepless nights. “The top layers of my eyes kept coming off during sleep,” he explains.

On top of that, he and his wife were dealing with a vindictive neighbor from hell. “All of this stuff was happening with (my former) neighbor, who was charged with stalking,” says Garrigan, who wrote about the neighbor’s long-awaited comeuppance on one of “Volume’s” best tracks, “It Comes Down Hard.”

Friends Shawn Lynch and Bruce Hazel noticed Garrigan hadn’t been playing music, which was unusual considering he’d spent decades with bands such as Laburnum, Pop-Rocket, and most recently, Garrigan.

They invited him to join their band Temperance League on keys, and “a month later, we played Time Warner Cable Arena (now Spectrum Center) opening for Bob Seger,” he recalls, with a laugh.

The supporting role helped get him out of his funk.

“As I got used to the new normal, I gravitated back toward my old self,” he says.

That eventually meant leaving Temperance League with Lynch to devote himself full-time to the Eyebrows.

With his sight mostly renewed and a new perspective on music, Garrigan is approaching the Eyebrows differently than he did his former bands. The trio, which includes Darrin Gray, won’t be hitting the road for long stretches for instance.

“I learned a lot from all those years playing. ... We starved, and with starvation comes a certain depression cycle of poverty for me,” says Garrigan.

Most of the songs on “Volume” do swing with a Cars-meets-B-52s-meets-Matthew Sweet kind of quirkiness. Famed N.C. producer Mitch Easter’s production adds a welcome layer of weirdness to the mix at times, whether it’s on Garrigan’s reverb-heavy vocals on “Avocado” or the shoegaze haze of “Suicide Love.”

And writing “Volume” was more of an escape than an act of catharsis.

Certainly titles like “Suicide Love,” “I Feel Unloved” and “Pent Up Things That Die in the Light” don’t elicit warm, fuzzy feelings. But thanks to the bopping vintage synthesizer sounds and upbeat rhythms, the album doesn’t sound like the work of someone going through turmoil.

“I think I have a knack,” he says, “for writing happy melodies with sad, weird lyrics.”

The Eyebrows

When: 10 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St.

Tickets: $5.

Details: www.snugrock.com.

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