Well, 2012 may be the year of the second chance for Love and Theft. Despite losing member Brian Bandas, the group has continued as a duo (always an underused field in country, as anyone not named Brooks or Dunn could tell you). And despite the closure of their former label, Lyric Street, Love and Theft has locked in with RCA. I particularly enjoyed “Runaway” and especially “Dancing in Circles,” so I came into this song with high hopes and was not in the least disappointed.
“Angel Eyes” sticks to the sound of those two songs that I just mentioned. There’s a little bit of Restless Heart’s country-pop, a little bit of the Warren Brothers’ grit and some of Blue County’s coolness. No, it’s not a long song, and no, it doesn’t have anything new to say lyrically (it’s the umpteenth song about a rebellious preacher’s daughter whom the narrator likes). On the other hand, it never feels cliché or tedious. Gunderson and Liles both harmonize and trade off the lead vocal, making everything — particularly the hook “There’s a little bit of devil in her angel eyes” — sound fresh and interesting.
I certainly hope that this song is no fluke. Love and Theft have a distinctive sound that’s carried on through a couple marked changes. It seems that so few duos can break through, ever (why couldn’t Bomshel have hit the big time?), but if anyone could change that around, I’m betting on these two guys. Call them the comeback kids of 2012.