01 Nov EL VY – Return to the Moon

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Photo of the band playing Conan. Credit for both pictures to their instagram.

Return to the Moon is the first release from EL VY (@el__vy), a band made up of Matt Berninger from The National and Brent Knopf from Menomena / Ramona Falls. It sounds a bit whimsical at times but well put together musically. Some of the songs feel out of place. I’m not yet sold on the way it’s written, but it’s pretty much on par with recent National albums. Some of it sounds lazy. At least it’s lyrically consistent throughout the album.

Paul is alive

Slick guitar sound during the verses gives it an eerie feel. I don’t love the Beatles but he refers to them, much like in Don’t Swallow the Cap from 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me. I was hoping it was a Replacements reference then, and now it’s even harder to pretend it was. He also refers to a bar from his hometown. Some of the writing feels lazy – he starts off the song with a dreamy metaphor and follows it with something you’d find in a local news report : “I had a sugar-coated childhood, The stars were in my soup, But given the opportunity, I’d start over and change it all”

It’s a game

My initial favourite. Somewhat made me think of recent National songs. I haven’t dreamt of a romantic California this way since Don Draper set his sights on opening SCDP West. Remember when The National made references to historic things like the Soho Riots? Here, he talks about the dead Minutemen, who were either an 80’s CA punk-rock band or early-response militia outfits that fought in the Revolutionary War. Either reference is fitting and play along with his sad game.

Happiness, Missouri

Makes me think of some Sun Kil Moon. Grungier than what you hear Berninger usually sing to. It talks about a (fake?) town in Missouri with an empty story that means a lot to him, and it has the drudging urgency of a classic National song. Beautiful.