EL VY
Return to the Moon
4AD


 

If you’ve heard The National, you will immediately recognise the baritone croon of singer Matt Berninger, and his cryptic and beautiful lyrics. However, his collaboration with Brent Knopf (Menomena, Ramona Falls) under the name EL VY (supposedly pronounced like the plural of Elvis), sounds very different to anything previously created by either member.

The album opens with the lengthily titled ‘Return To The Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloome to Sing, with Crescendo)’. The track begins with jangly guitars and walking baselines creating a bouncy upbeat rhythm for Berninger to sing over. His opening line “scratched a ticket with the leg of a cricket, and I got triple Jesus” is typical for Berninger’s lyrics, combining highbrow and lowbrow references with great poetic effect. The chorus is more catchy than a typical National chorus, with more repetitive hooks that make the song ‘Return To The Moon’ almost feel like a pop record.

The second track ‘I’m The Man To Be’ is a very different kettle of fish. With distorted vocals, and a low key chorus with the line “I’m peaceful ‘cause my dick’s in the sunlight”, Berninger evokes this tongue in cheek persona of a washed up rock-star with effortless confidence. The track itself and the album as a whole is incredibly self aware, Beninger’s persona the epitome of rockstar nonchalance, sprinkled with surreal comedy and little winks to the listeners, including them on the joke. The line “I’ll be the one in the lobby in the coloured fuck me shirt. The green one” can’t help but bring out a smirk from the listener.

Return To The Moon has the spark of The National, but sounds like nothing you’ve heard before

As the album progresses we hear more of Knopf’s talents as a producer, with stunning soundscapes on the more sparse tracks like ‘Paul is Alive’ (about The Beatles), and ’Need a Friend’ (with a incredible lead synth lick) as well as the more spooky ‘Silent Ivy Hotel’ and rocky ‘Sad Case’. The duo clearly are experimenting with genre and songwriting on this album, and the album is incredibly varied in style. While there are no weak songs on the album, the album’s strength is at the beginning. This is not to discredit Berningher or Knopf, but to credit just how good the first half of this album is. The crescendo in ‘No Time To Crank The Sun’ provides the perfect link from the first half into the second, which is generally less experimental and more a collection of ballads and rock songs’; more conventional with an experimental twist.

It is so very hard to describe this album because of how unique it is, and how varied each track is. So I encourage everyone to listen to it, whether by buying the album or listening to the lyric videos of each track on the band’s YouTube channel, produced by Tom Berninger, Matt’s brother responsible for last year’s film Mistaken for Strangers. A unique and creative marvel that shouldn’t go untouched, EL VY’s Return To The Moon has the spark of The National, but sounds like nothing you’ve heard before.

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