Review Summary: A melodic masterclass from a promising Hampshire singer/songwriter
After garnering attention via quirky, home-made music videos and spontaneous busking sessions in quaint British market towns, elephant's eponymous debut album eventually dropped in the autumn of 2012. Choosing to omit the catchy single “Boom Boom Boom”, live favourite “Just Friends” and the explosive EP track “Cecile”, elephant's album initially made some fans skeptical that the record may not be as good as it perhaps could have been, prior to listening. However, by the third track on the album, it becomes quite apparent that the album is filled with diverse, memorable pop songs and any fears regarding quality have been completely quashed. The charming garage-pop anthem “Cabin Fever” provides listeners with an early highlight through a haze of fuzzy guitars and a gloriously bizarre lyric about a defeat at chess club. Album centrepiece and lead single, “Pterodactyl”, provides more entertainment by means of an intricate folky guitar melody and a dream-like chorus.
In spite of a formidable first half to the record, the album actually reaches its zenith towards the end. “In Your Wake” sounds like the best song Simon and Garfunkel never wrote, whilst the woozy banjo-led “Laughing Gas” excels with its outstanding production and trumpetted finale. Although perhaps a little jarring on first listen, the electronic experimentation on “Estuary” is frankly incredible. elephant exhibits an absolutely exceptional melodic sensibility in this track in particular - especially during the swooping main refrain. Put simply, this is the best song on the record, which is no mean feat!
It is difficult to pick fault with this near perfect debut album, but if I were pressed for criticism, I would argue the inclusion of “Epilogue” is questionable. Although, the track is pleasant to listen to and the guitar work is extremely well executed, one cannot help but feel that the closing organ drone of “Estuary” may have been marginally more satisfying to end the record. At the opposite end of the record, “To Be Young” is arguably not quite immediate enough for an album opener, but on the other hand, the lyrical themes fit perfectly with the rest of the album. Ultimately though, when an instrumental epilogue and the immediacy of just one track are the only criticisms of the record, it is quite evident that this must be an excellent debut offering. Roll on album number two!