The Elephant 6 collective is known for it’s offbeat, slightly strange, usually fairly psychedelic bands. Elf Power is no exception. With almost twenty years of experience and several albums released, they’re one of those bands more people should know about. Their latest big release is called Sunlight on the Moon and it’s set to release on Orange Twin records (an almost literal sister label of Elephant 6).
Sunlight on the Moon is like a blanket of music; carefully woven with layers of singing, guitars, and drums. Each piece weaves through one another, mesmerizing and bringing you into some auditory warmth. Admittedly, the vocals play a large part. Every word sung pushes the song along little by little. Despite this, Elf Power has designed each supporting melody with a unique essence. The instruments speak for themselves, and the final product is a perfectly crafted balance of voices.
When Elf Power starts the album off, things feel a bit uneasy. “Transparent Lines” has a bullet fast delivery. Drum beat and acoustic guitar sound off immediately. The lyrics drift between consonance and dissonance. The song then ends just as abruptly and at this point, it’s hard to know what to expect. The sudden start and stops mixed with a sweeping of moods creates an uneasy feeling. The album quickly picks itself up however. “A Grey Cloth Covering My Face” eases the listener in a bit more, and a mix of acoustic guitar mixed with deep distorted tones forces you to stare at your shoes and become lost in the music. The lyrics tell a story of sorts, and as you try to dissect it, you find yourself being consumed in a wave of sounds. From here on, the album passes by like a dream.
Admittedly, a good portion of Sunlight on the Moon is forgettable. Don’t get me wrong, the album is good, but it constantly feels like it’s missing that something. Nothing ever feels perfectly done. Perhaps the melodies are too droney, maybe the lack of sing-along choruses impacts the experience a bit. On the other hand, the largely acoustic sixth track, “Things Lost,” is an incredible moment. The guitar chords ring out loudly in the background; meanwhile, the vocals sing alongside a piano melody. “And I wanted to go past the sun, and I wanted to see everyone, again;” isn’t the most relatable line ever heard, but when coupled with the instrumentation, it’s hard not to feel a bit moved.
Sunlight on the Moon has another big moment towards the end of the album, “Total Annihilation,” starts off with a droning and drumming. The guitars and vocals sing melodies that seem to fly around one another. Suddenly, the song takes a break from the main line, and cuts into a more relaxed sound, with a smooth bass line and sweetly sung lyrics. The song continually bounces between either piece, carrying some contrasting sounds. The final product is incredible, and yet there’s a sense that all of this is extremely familiar.
The ties to Elephant 6 are clear. Most of the songs are reminiscent of The Gerbils, Of Montreal, or even Olivia Tremor Control. Without calling the Elephant 6 name some sort of quality assurance, Sunlight on the Moon is the kind of quality album you come to expect from the label. There’s that sense of absurdness mixed with lyrics that you fall in love with and instrumental parts that you get lost in.
All in all, Sunlight on the Moon is great. It could use a little pizzazz here and there, sure; but it still pulls off a few great songs. As a whole, it’s hard not to like. Elf Power is one of those bands that if you haven’t heard of, now’s the time to give them a shot. A final word; Elf Power is set to tour with Neutral Milk Hotel. Go check some tour dates, and maybe if you’re lucky, you can catch one of their new songs live.