Menomena and the National are clearly good friends: earlier this year Pfarmers formed from members of each, and now another band has come to us with the former's Brent Knopf and the latter's Matt Berninger. I guess you could call it an indie rock supergroup, though as EL VY ("hell pie", we're told as way of pronunciation), the typical modesty of Berninger should temper that; it'll take the surreal, humorist songwriting of Knopf to lift them both up.
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When is the National not the National? When it’s El Vy. That’s not meant to be a joke so don’t panic that you didn’t laugh.
El Vy is the guy who sings with the National with another dude from (Menomena and Ramona Falls). As it's the guy from the National who sings, it sounds rather like the National….but a cheerier one. Opener 'Return To The Moon’ is classic radio fodder. Like a smoother Death Cab For Cutie it has funky guitars, clear as a bell production and that slightly mumbled melancholy the guy from the National likes to bring. Although it’s quite diverse stylistically veering between Beck-like funk ('I’m the Man To Be' and…er…Beck like acoustic wallowing ‘Paul Is Alive’) is generally never veers away from sounding like a perkier, fun loving the National. It kind of reminds me of the difference between the latter-day the Shins and Broken Bells…i.e. not all that much and the guy from the National has successfully injected this with their dreariness.
That opening tune is pretty hot though. The rest? Moribund but fans of the National should take a listen.
7/10 Sandra 8th June 2016
I bought this record because I absolutely love the National, but I have to say it is completely different from the band. I disagree about the "cheerier", in fact, I found this even more deep and sad than the National - and this is probably why I really like it! Matt Berninger's voice still manages to dig deep and the lyrics are just brilliant. Some songs in a better way than others, like "need a friend", a very intense track that is meant to break hearts.
Highly recommended if you can face sad songs and still find it intriguing.
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