If the 1960s groove of Desmond Dekker & The Aces met the smooth tones of Sam Cooke, rolled itself in The Seekers‘ harmonies and sprinkled itself with some modern day indie-rock, you would get Return To The Moon, the debut album from EL VY (pronounced, according to the bands Facebook page, “like ‘hell pie’ or the plural of Elvis”). Consisting of The National‘s main lyricist and vocalist Matt Berninger and front man/producer of Ramona Falls Brent Knopf, the band have immediately set high expectations with this pairing alone, and I can safely there’s a high chance you won’t be left disappointed.
The National’s Matt Beringer and Brent Knopf of Ramona Falls prove the power of two, teaming up as EL VY to create Return To The Moon – a smoky, atmospheric addition to both of their illustrious catalogues.
The opening track Return To The Moon (Political Song For Didi Bloome to Sing, with Crescendo) is about as cryptic as its title. It’s the kind of song you’d hear being played by a live band in a sophisticated bar with a smoky atmosphere where people are swilling red wine and brandy, too entranced by the music for chatter. It’s also nothing that strays too far from the existing vibe of The National, or Knopf’s past project Menomena. Don’t place too much hope in finding some clarity in the track’s accompanying lyric video because it’s just as mysterious.
Each song on the album follows the same recipe; a smooth, catchy melody with a soothing vocal, but each with an added layer. I’m The Man To Be takes you far away from the sophisticated, smoky bar and could slot easily into The Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack. A film of sleaziness has been thrown into the smooth vocal tones with lyrics to match, very apt and not at all a surprising element for Berninger.
Without making a direct and completely expected comparison to either The National or Ramona Falls, it’s fitting to say that Return To The Moon is an extension of both bands and their latest releases. You’ve got the frantic yet cheerful showcase of keys and overall production element from Knopf and Berninger’s gloomy yet serene vocals and puzzling lyrics. Silent Ivy Hotel marks the middle of the record and swirls in the air like something from a 1950s horror movie; strange, yet beautifully dark with layers of artistic value. Happiness, Missouri and Careless finish off the record with a mixture of up-beat and striking melancholy undertones; again, nothing that’s all too surprising from Berninger, but enjoyable all the same.
Whether you’re sipping on some brandy in a smoky bar or completing your chilling-at-home playlist, Return To The Moon is a record all fans of The National, The Shins, Band of Horses and the like are sure to love.