Release Date: Apr 28, 2014
Record label: Memphis Industries
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Indie Pop, Dream Pop
In the music industry, few titles are as ambiguous as “producer”. If the artists are making the music, after all, just what is the producer producing? That all depends. In the 1950s and much of the ‘60s, the producer was often responsible for every part of a record except the singing. As more artists started writing songs and playing instruments, some producers took more of a hands-off role.
Elephant's debut album, Sky Swimming, features a song called "Allured," and it's a perfect description of the duo's sound. As it swells from pretty, spare piano balladry showcasing Amelia Rivas' enchanting voice into strings that stop just short of lavish, it's as tender and, yes, alluring as the first signs of spring after a long winter. Sky Swimming boasts many other moments that are just as vivid, from the limpid guitars and echoing vocals that suggest rippling waves on "Shipwrecked" to the playful organ that contrasts the pained lyrics on "Ants." Throughout the album, Rivas and Christian Pinchbeck never sound anything less than graceful, tasteful, light, and breezy.
Musicians can often cite a special first purchase that ignited their creative spark and confirmed that making music is what they want to do. In the case of Elephant, that purchase was a cheap keyboard. Amelia Rivas and Christian Pinchbeck met three years ago at a house party and a subsequent rendezvous in Peckham led to an entire demo EP being made with just a £10 Casio to assist them.
Elephant’s debut, ‘Sky Swimming’, illustrates the issues of growing up, struggles of surviving in the big city and the turbulent romance which the duo, Amelia Rivas and Christian Pinchbeck, experienced during the creation of this album.‘Bedroom Pop’ more often than not feels like a student who’s forgotten to brush their teeth before a date – tastes of undesirability. Contrastingly, ‘Sky Swimming’ is a finished work of art. It’s coiffed.
Don't let that ethereal organ at the beginning of "Assembly" fool you. Elephant isn't Beach House even though it sometimes seems like they may want to be. It's just as well that the next song, "Skyscraper," has a bit more in common with an old standard such as "Sugar Town" than it does with anything on Teen Dream or Myth. This band knew to stack its influences enough throughout its debut to prevent anyone from calling them outright plagiarists.
There’s a disparity between how London duo Elephant got off the ground, and what they offer up on this debut album. Having met at a party, vocalist Amelia Rivas and studio tinkerer Christian Pinchbeck wrote and recorded during all-nighters, off their chops. Roughly four years and a tortuous recording process later, they deliver alluring analogue pop textures and nagging refrains, but sound like they’ve never ingested anything stronger than skimmed milk.