Review Summary: Alternative, progressive shoegaze, or something, guess I need to know better.
A list. A user list asking for someone to review their band’s newest album coming out in a few days. It was something new, so I thought I would give it a try. What was the result" An album I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. Elemantra’s blend of the alternative stylings of The Smashing Pumpkins, Isis’ progression, along with the inclusion of influence from a handful of shoegaze bands results in an album full of different dynamics and diversity throughout its duration. Utilizing a loud-quiet method, To Know Better
is full of both blasting riffs and progressions and note picking coated with effects. What ties in all of these dynamics is the prevalent band chemistry.
From the very first song, Elemantra’s fluid songwriting and performance is spectacular. Ranging from hard-hitting riffing to soft melodies, with an occasional solo sprinkled about, the guitars really give To Know Better
its distinctive alternative feel. Justin and Brent take advantage of multiple different effects like delay, reverb, and distortion to give the album an extra punch of diversity. Complementing such guitars, Nick’s bass composition drives along each song, providing an underlaying base that brings out the tone of every track. Although never taking any complex grooves, the bass simply (yet effectively) supports Justin and Brent in holding onto the beautiful harmonies of music. Accompanying the strings, the impressive and original drum beats of Jonah intertwine all of the rhythms together into varying and changing tempos of every song, jumping back and forth between powerful choruses to slow, fluid verses almost effortlessly. Topping off the already impressive sound of To Know Better
, Justin’s Smashing Pumpkins-esque vocals only improve Elemantra’s work. Scaling multiple different notes, Justin’s vocal ability is quite impressive, yet slightly “same-y” after a while.
Venturing away from the overall sound, the small, yet important, intricacies of the album are well worth noting. In a few songs, saxophone plays alongside the guitar, almost like a duet, giving them a jazzy feel that is quiet refreshing to hear among a predominantly alternative album. To further diversify the album, different key effects are implanted throughout to provide a shoegaze-like ambiance that gives To Know Better
a full atmosphere.
Combining all of the components, both subtle and obvious alike, Elemantra creates an album of maturity in the alternative genre and a refreshing take on the already established sound. Although the initial playthrough is quite entertaining, the following replays reveal more and more about the album’s subtleties, providing a new experience to the songs each time. To Know Better
is a must-listen for those fans of the genre as well as a great introduction to the style of bands of the like, as it was for me.