Review Summary: i know we'll be human one day
New Alhambra is just as much of an album as it an affinity. The unification, or even infatuation, of Mat Cothran and Delaney Mills is essential to the product. But beyond the two banner members, there is a symbiosis of the entire band, and beyond that, of every single person who took part in the creation of the record. New Alhambra is unanimous. This is even further symbolized through the cohesion of the tracks themselves. The transitions consistently flow with samples regarding themes of religion and eternity, two motifs constantly revolving through the lyrical imagery of Mat's expressions. His symbolic brilliance is nothing new, but its presentation here, while evidently satisfying, remains in a different realm than it customarily would be. The symbolism seems to be a collection and amalgamation of every approach Elvis Depressedly have attempted over the past six years, lyrically and melodically. New Alhambra stands as a vision realized, even if by unexpected means.
The sounds presented are heavenly. This is where the mentioned 'unexpected means' come from. Not to say that the vast majority of songs Mat Cothran has been involved with haven't been gorgeous or alluring, they have, but he generally juxtaposed these pleasant pieces with twisted undertones. Masterpieces "Stoned Alone" and "Hotter Sadness" feel thoroughly isolated and abandoned. Going even further, the earliest Elvis Depressedly releases "Save the Planet Kill Yourself" and "Goner" appear beyond sequestered, to a place where Mat sounds virtually tortured, although with a slight but crucial sense of levity on the latter. From there, the project moved in a logical direction towards cynical and droll bedroom pop with releases such as "Disgraceland" and "Mickey's Dead". All of this work led up to 2013's "Holo Pleasures", an insanely catchy and fuzzy pop album filled with honest and simplistic songwriting. The album was met with a significant amount of attention from certain crowds, mostly due to how absolutely infectious it was, but it was still missing the defining factor that brought Mat's music beyond the level of superb to something greater. Two years later, New Alhambra brings this factor of pure, unadulterated emotion back.
Now, this surely tiresome history lesson is imperative to understanding everything that makes New Alhambra warrant the fanatic amount of love I commit to it. With all the imagery of hell and Satan that Mat has been spewing over the years, he manages to take the misery to the next level, while simultaneously putting the listener in a euphoric state. The songs themselves are melancholy, there is no arguing against that, even with claims of optimism and hope, but they are comforting. This is Elvis Depressedly accepting, embracing the void, with open arms. The impression of an embrace can be likened to the production, moving marginally away from their roots set in lo-fi and coming closer to an even more dreamy and wistful sound with swirling, beautiful textures. The union of the tracks is also vital, making the piece complete and full in its being, successfully captivating you throughout its twenty minute duration. It creates itself to be a sojourn through the minds of its creators, but also your own consciousness on a primitive level, miraculously free of any sort of pretense or simulation.
Although the record flows as a singular piece, it's not to say the songs aren't able to stand admirably by themselves. Opener "Thou Shall Not Murder" proves to be the most rock-leaning song on the record, while immediately establishing the general mood that remains present for the album's entirety. The slow-moving and meditative title track sets itself firmly as one of the most sincere and poignant songs Mat has ever written. New Alhambra also manages to end on an incredibly high note with the last three songs, all standouts in their own right. The first, "Ease", is a short, simple, but incredibly stunning song that manages to have the most catchy melodies in the entire album. The second, "New Heaven, New Earth", alludes to the record's heavenly aspects with a more upbeat and refreshing tempo. The final track, and the shortest, "Wastes of Time", while being the most bare-bones song, is anything but anti-climactic. The song is simply one of the most touching and authentic love songs I have ever heard, and is doubtlessly the perfect way to bring the album to a close. And just the term 'love song' makes me sick.
This review could be infinite. New Alhambra is entirely open to interpretation, and represents so many different things. It is a prophecy of the end of the world. It is an auto-biographical tale told with reverb laden synthesizers and addictive bass lines. It is your self-loathing best friend. If you were to look at the album at surface level, it could seem like just a collection of well written dreamy pop songs, but below the surface it is so much more than that. The sounds are beautiful in their simplicity, candid in their straight-forward approach. Although the songwriting is unequivocally brilliant, the earnest emotion put out by the band is what makes out New Alhambra to be so exceptional. And through no accident, the beauty is empowering and liberating. There is so much more to life, my friends, than all these wastes of time.