12 plays of Christmas – el vy

 3. El-Vy – Return To The Moon

No pressure then, just the side project of Matt Beringer (The National) and Brent Knopf (Menomena). No one will have any expectations of that little collaboration. Two critical lauded and, in The National’s case, widely loved bands who have taken some time out leaving their members a few moments for something different. 

The hallmarks are all here: the dead-pan, witty non-sequitors, the subtely clever alt-pop stylings and the impatient, earnest fanboy hope. Is it good? It must be good, right? 

Short answer, yes. Long answer: yes, but with sky-high expectations there is always a sense of not quite, of what should, could have been. This isn’t a record that hangs together perfectly but it has so many lovely moments it’s impossible not to forgive.

While you know what you’re getting with a National or Menomena record El Vy provide a constantly shifting landscape. A kaleidoscope of keyboards, 80s guitar and woos, woos. Everything sounds like it doesn’t belongs together but it does. The result is like a bunch of children told, independently to draw the same picture with the same tools – broadly alike yet completely different.

I’ve previously pushed the fantastic title track so we’ll dyer away from that and spend a little time admiring Need A Friend. I spent a little while presuming this was an ironic take on the role of a roadie (you were supposed to be here before the last song, you were supposed to bring me your brother’s weed) but repeated listening suggests a loneliness, a disconnection with the world. Fame has taken Matt away, he can’t make connections anymore, not naturally and it hurts. It’s this duality, the sharp humour underwritten by melancholy that gives it depth:

My favourite moment, though, has to be It’s a Game. There’s little to be said that isn’t there in its opening lines:

Didi, I just saw the wildest thing

Watched the sun just walk into the Ocean

Nothing I could do

Gone before I knew

You can pick up the record from 4Ad or stream it from spotify

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