Monday, November 24, 2008

Album: Elika - Trying Got Us Nowhere

Trying Got Us Nowhere
Album: Trying Got Us Nowhere
Fiercely Independent, 2008
Rating: ******** (8/10)

I've been following New York's electro-shoegaze duo Elika for over a year now, so I don't really have a good excuse for not getting this album review up until a full week after the official release date. Sorry guys! Without further ado...

Elika's debut LP is only seven songs long, which immediately boded well - at last, a band who can edit themselves and not dilute a great album with filler or mediocre tracks! And after a couple of listens from start to finish, I can honestly say I doubt I'll be hitting the "skip" button much, even on my hundredth time through.

My only significant complaint about the entire album is that the vocal melodies are a little dull. Singer Evagelia Maravelias has a lovely voice, and the parts she sings aren't unpleasant by any stretch, but they are just predictable and unremarkable. There's a lot of lost potential, and I wonder to what heights this band could soar if they are able to improve this one aspect of their song-writing.


But that's small beans compared to amazing sounds this band makes. The arrangements, heavily electronic, are stunning enough to send shivers up my spine. Elika crafts their textures with restraint, precision and extraordinary vision. Best of all, unlike those of so many "shoegaze" bands, Elika's soundscapes are always dynamic, gently propelling the songs forward, never once stagnating. On a broader scale, the songs are structured with care, full of remarkable contrast between swells and lulls, harmony and dissonance, convention and experimentation.

The album does falter just a little towards the end. "Let Down" is the most conventional pop number on the record. Its structure and melody may make it stand out in the context of the album, but in a larger context, these features could easily let it get lost in the hum-drum world of similar songs. The following track, "They'll Hate Us," has the potential to be one of the album's strongest, but it's damaged by a dated-sounding beat that is simply not of the caliber of the rest of the album.

But we can forgive Elika these small things, easily. Why? Because they've put out one of the most beautiful and mature debut LPs of 2008. Simply put: hats off.

No comments: