EL VY
Return to the Moon


3.5
great

Review

by Scarlet413 USER (1 Reviews)
November 3rd, 2015 | 149 replies


Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An inconsistent, yet gloriously fun, lighthearted album deserving of a great deal more attention than has been received.

I was rather surprised at the lack of attention EL VY has been receiving. No flashy announcements, little coverage on popular music websites... surprising considering its an album from two fairly well established Indie musicians. After listening to the album a few times, I can honestly say that this lack of attention is wholeheartedly undeserved.

For those who don't know, EL VY is a collaboration between Matt Berninger of the National, and Brent Knopf of Menomena and Ramona Falls. The story goes that the two met on tour a while back, and decided to work together. Over the next few years, the two exchanged partial bits of song writing, and finally after the National took a break the two began to work and record together in earnest - and so, "Return to the Moon" was born.

I have to confess from the outset that I'm not familiar with Knopfs work, though I am a big fan of the National. Expecting something similar to the later National albums, from the moment I heard the first sharp guitar twangs of the wonderfully titled "Return to the Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloome to sing, with Crescendo)" I was pleasantly surprised. As the albums opener it stands as one of the albums best songs - presenting a laid back yet energetic collage of guitars, drums, and keyboards all tied together by Berninger's baritone and trademark vague, seemingly nonsensical lyrics ("Bought a saltwater fish from a colourblind witch/Coz she said she loved it" particularly stands out). As the album progresses we get hints of this returning style, but really the album is characterised by its immense variation in tone and style - from the twisted, bass-heavy and self-deprecating "I'm the Man to Be" to the ballads "No Time to Crank the Sun" and "Its a Game".

This variation is one of the albums greatest strengths, but also one of its greatest weaknesses. While the range of tone and styles means the album never feels boring or repetitive, it also means the album never feels like a cohesive whole - rather more like a collection of songs thrown together. The first three songs alone indicate this - the aforementioned laid back, contemplative "Return to the Moon" goes straight into the sharp, biting "I'm the Man to Be", followed by the slow, ballad-esque "Paul is Alive". Right off the bat we're sort of left thrown by this discontinuity, and unfortunately this means that the aforementioned "Its a Game", a potentially emotional, sad song, feels a bit empty seeing as how its surrounded by upbeat indie pop songs. Its unfortunate, because its a fantastic song (along with similar ballads "Paul is Alive" and "No Time to Crank the Sun"), but it just seems somehow out of place.

All that being said, I think this could be explained by thinking of this album as what it is - two friends messing around with song writing and making something fun. And in that regard, this album absolutely triumphs. No song on this album is boring, and no song sounds strained - both lyrics and music are infused with a sense of humour and fun which, considering the somber, arguably overly-serious nature of the later National albums, comes as a welcome relief. There's just something so goofily hilarious about hearing Matt Berninger saying "I'm peaceful coz my dicks in sunlight/held up by kites/Coz I'm the man to be" over a backing of female voices and soaring synthesisers. There's not really a bad song on the album, and while the inconsistency does hold the album back from being truly great, for what it is it triumphs - a fun, enjoyable, slightly goofy 11 songs. And for this alone, the album's worth a listen.

Recommended Songs:
Return to the Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloome to Sing, with Crescendo)
I'm the Man to Be
No Time to Crank the Sun
Silent Ivy Hotel
Sad Case


user ratings (119)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
RadicalEd
November 3rd 2015


9546 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Decent review. Don't care much for the album. "Return to the Moon" and "No time to Crank the Sun" are great.

DoofusWainwright
November 3rd 2015


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I've only listened to the first 6 songs so far and they equal 3 hits and 3 misses for me. Return, Paul and Crank are all enjoyable, the others seemed really sloppy.

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 3rd 2015


32737 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is hovering between a 3.5/4 for me, but right now it's not quite grabbing me enough to warrant placing it among the year's best. 'Paul is Alive' and 'Silent Ivy Hotel' are both incredible, and I'm still delving into this so others may grow on me as well.

Digging: Low Roar - ross.

AmericanFlagAsh
November 3rd 2015


9052 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Great review. This is between a 3.5 and a 4 for me too.

I love Matt so I just went with the latter.



The Pitchfork review of this is such garbage, have you guys read it? He says it's unfair to compare this to The National and does that the entire time lol

Digging: FKA Twigs - Magdalene

JWT155
November 3rd 2015


14464 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

"deserving of a great deal more attention than has been received." I mean, the record has only been out for 5 days and it's new group, music takes time to sink in. I'm with sowing, between a 3.5 and 4 for me. Overall a fun record with a lot of nuance and quirkiness instrumentally and I could listen to Matt sing all day long.

YourDarkAffected
November 3rd 2015


1850 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

First half definitely holds me better than the second, but that transition between Sad Case and Happiness, Missouri is so good





Edit: Still a big fan of the whole record

RadioSuicide
November 3rd 2015


1233 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

bit of a mixed bag, but I'm finding more to like than dislike.

Digging: Low Roar - ross.

YetAnotherBrick
November 3rd 2015


6691 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great review. i gotta hear this. i bet Matt's enjoying a little break from the whole brooding thing

theBoneyKing
November 3rd 2015


17732 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The stuck between 3.5 and 4 feeling definitely pervades this, it has enough excellent songs that it doesn't quite feel like a 3.5, but not enough that it feels like a solid 4. I would say 3.8 if I could.

Digging: Cocteau Twins - Treasure

Scarlet413
November 3rd 2015


2 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"I mean, the record has only been out for 5 days and it's new group, music takes time to sink in."



I think I more meant that even the singles which have been coming out for a few months now received little attention. But fair enough I take your point

Also thanks for feedback people! Its my first review so please feel free to leave any kind of tips/criticisms I can work on later

theBoneyKing
November 4th 2015


17732 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The only song here that's less than good is Sleeping Light.

And the transition between Sad Case and Happiness, Missouri is probably my favorite moment on the album.

tommygun
November 4th 2015


26970 Comments


sleeping light rules

tommygun
November 4th 2015


26970 Comments


I'M PEACEFUL COS MYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

DICK'S IN SUNLIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT

HELD UP BY KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITES

NorthernSkylark
November 4th 2015


9566 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

so goood

Digging: The Secret Sisters - You Don't Own Me Anymore

blastOFFitsPARTYtime
November 4th 2015


1876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Easy 4 for me.



Can't fucking wait to see 'em live.

Digging: Proper. - I Spent the Winter Writing Songs About Getting Bet

Deathconscious
November 4th 2015


23080 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i enjoyed this. there were some things about Brent's compositions that irked me a little and Matt's lyrics are a bit weak in places, but overall it was fun to listen to. it was cool hearing Matt's voice over something a little more upbeat and playful.

Digging: Sanguisugabogg - Pornographic Seizures

DoofusWainwright
November 5th 2015


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Listened all the way through twice now, doubt I'll bump the rating. It's ok, the three songs I mentioned earlier stand out for me. Matt on the second half of the album reminds me of The National debut album, vocal melodies are pretty forgettable for him.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
November 5th 2015


42735 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"the aforementioned "Its a Game", a potentially emotional, sad song, feels a bit empty seeing as how its surrounded by upbeat indie pop songs"



so wait how is Crank the Sun upbeat, indie or pop in any way

NorthernSkylark
November 5th 2015


9566 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

it's just not

Snake.
November 6th 2015


21814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh shit i had no idea about this



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