Release Date: Sep 30, 2013
Record label: Orange Twin
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Lo-Fi, Indie Pop, Neo-Psychedelia
Athens, Georgia's DayGlo indie psych collective Elf Power started sculpting their melted-crayon lo-fi pop in the mid-'90s, eventually crafting over ten albums' worth of their often twisted but sweetly sunny songs. Sunlight on the Moon finds Elf Power's principal songwriter Andrew Rieger and longtime creative partner Laura Carter collaborating with players who've done time in Of Montreal, Great Lakes, and other bands in the pop-friendly Athens-based Elephant 6 collective. The album's fidelity is not too far removed from the bedroom recordings of the band's earliest days, with recording being split between several Georgian studios and Rieger's bedroom.
Elf Power has been creating intricate, melodic, insightful indie-pop for so long now that the occasion of a new album is simply another opportunity to bask in all the things the band has been so good at since starting as a bit player in the Elephant 6 scene in the mid-'90s. The band's last album, 2010's self-titled release, was a mostly subdued tribute to recently departed friend, Vic Chesnutt, and this one, the band's 11th, features much of the same in terms of tone. "Grotesquely Born Anew," perhaps the album's best song (and certainly its best song title), features a perfectly lullaby-like melody surrounded by swirling, Eastern-flavored string sounds.
There’s much to like about Neutral Milk Hotel’s return to touring. For one, it seems to be on Jeff Mangum’s terms. Secondly, it’s a bit of a victory lap for an album (In the Aeroplane Over the Sea) that has become a cult classic since its release. Of course, it’s also a way for us to publicly pat ourselves on the back for getting on board in a way we couldn’t before.
"Tried to forget about the old ways, tried to discover a new meaning," Andrew Rieger sings at the end of Sunlight on the Moon, Athens psych-pop mainstays Elf Power's 12th album. Like just about any band staring down their third decade, Elf Power have slowly but surely left many of those old ways behind. 2010's pristine, sad-eyed Elf Power—a tribute to their late friend and occasional collaborator Vic Chesnutt—was a far cry from the fuzzed-out, freewheeling psych of the late 90s LPs these Elephant 6ers built their reputation on.
Sunlight on the Moon is Elf Power’s 12th full-length, and while it still sounds exuberantly, defiantly amateur (in the best, “for the love of it” sense), the band has clearly gotten better at what it does. These fuzz-toned, delicately arranged melodies curve in a gratifying ways around bizarrely evocative imagery. They are well-constructed, tightly knit songs that fizz with eccentricity and bubble with subconscious impulses.