A keenly and widely awaited prospect, Above The Water is the new album from art popsters ELK CITY. It is a release which lead singles suggested would be an adventurous proposal, its answer was swiftly revealed in a collection of keenly offered tracks.
Hailing from New Jersey, ELK CITY revolves around founders, artist/ vocalist Renée LoBue and producer/drummer Ray Ketchem, with a line-up completed by guitarists Sean Eden (Luna) and Chris Robertson (Feed, Punch Havana) and bass guitarist Richard Baluyut (Versus). It is a project formed in 1999 and has released a quintet of albums to date, all increasingly well-received and a trio of EPs and a host of singles meeting equal praise. Above The Water reveals another wave of fresh energy and creative breath to the band’s atmospheric pop/indie rock bred sound, its guitar driven incitement and psych nurtured inclinations a ripe embrace for the band’s instinctive melodic prowess.
Above The Water opens with the instantly manipulative That Someone, its initial slim guitar melodies carrying a potent lure and a creative smile which only broadens as the track opens its creative arms to lively rhythms and LoBue’s magnetic tones. Steely guitar wires are courted by crystalline shimmers as rhythms continue to eagerly jab, the keen catchiness of the outstanding track escalating by the twist and turn.
Someone’s Party embraces and continues the album’s impressive start, its entrance also low key but instantly alluring and by the second welcoming new melodic tempting around skipping beats and LoBue’s warmly captivating voice. There is also an atypical edge and shimmer to it all, a psychedelic hued aspect to add a kaleidoscopic sheen to the swiftly and greedily devoured song.
The following Apology Song strolls in with a soulful breath and as quickly is sharing its soulful heart. If not quite matching the heights of its predecessors in these ears, its dream pop nurtured presence firmly held court whilst cementing the album’s strong start and again LoBue proved a moonlit presence, her tones just as absorbing within Your Time Doesn’t Exist. Again an instinctive catchiness takes hold even in the song’s mellow entrance while a sense of contemplation lined every aspect of the song, from voice to its melodies a thoughtful musing is offered and matched by the reserved but again infectious swing of rhythms; a whiff of seventies soft rock adding to its fascination.
A folkish essence aligns with A Family to add to the varied flavouring in the album’s adventure and ELK CITY’S sound, the song a poetic shimmer upon the senses and an emotive incitement for thoughts, while Don’t You Wanna Try upon rhythmic manipulation simultaneously feels accuser and support within its rock pop fire. There is a breath of tempestuousness to the track too which brews and grows by the minute, its drama and emotions escalating with equal craft and intensity for a senses searing finale.
Floating Above the Water brings the album to its close, the track drifting gently through ears under ethereal skies. It’ other-worldly climate soon reveals solid earthy connections in sound and word as it is carried on the track’s melodic and vocal craft. It offers almost ghostly contemplation with a haunting slice of invention, keys and guitars weaving a soundscape of drama and intimation as rich and potent as LoBue’s vocal radiance and Ketchem’s shaman-esque rhythms.
As striking and engaging as it was straight off, Above The Water has only grown in fascination and captivation by the listen, so much so that while we admit we have not had the pleasure of sinking into all of their previous outings, we still feel confident in saying that their new offering is the finest adventure yet for band and listener alike.
Above The Water is out now via Magic Door Records; available @ https://elkcity.bandcamp.com/album/above-the-water
Upcoming Elk City Live Show:
Dec 17 BOSTON (Jamaica Plain) – The Midway (with Sleepyhead)
Pete RingMaster 15/11/2022
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