Although I have never really sat down and listened to Elf Power before, I have always been intrigued by them for a myriad of reasons. Firstly, they are members of the Elephant Six Collective which produced such influential bands as The Apples in Stereo, Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal, and my personal favorite Beulah. Secondly, they recorded an album with the late great
Vic Chesnutt in 2008 called Dark Developments. Thirdly, they are from Athens, GA and are noted R.E.M. fans; they even contributed to the R.E.M. live tribute at Carnegie Hall. With all that working for them, it seems they are predestined to be liked by me yet somehow I have not listened to a complete Elf Power album until now finally listening to their 13th studio album.
With so much working for the band, I was a little scared that I might be disappointed by their self-titled album. The album’s lead single, “Stranger in the Window” was a nice little poppy tune but its subdued nature made me think the album could be a mostly acoustic, plodding album that might just be the type of thing I hate. Luckily, I was quickly proven wrong.
The album’s opening track “The Taking Under” features fervent acoustic guitar strumming accented by cello hits. The rolling snare drums makes you think that any second the band will break into the chorus of Elvis’ “You’re the Devil in Disguise”. Somehow Elf Power resists the urge, but still deliver one hell of an opening track.
Other tracks like “Like a Cannonball” really helped me get into the album. There is something vaguely R.E.M.’s “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight” about the track. The tracks lush violin arrangement and twangy alt-country guitar arpeggios make the song great, but the walking bass line really completes the song as irresistible.
In the end, I found myself completely immersed in Elf Power. It was not until the album’s closing track that I found a song I did not particularly like on the album; until that point, every song was a quality listen. I know this is my first long term exposure to Elf Power but I can not imagine the band has recorded a finer album.