Release Date: Jan 25, 2011
Record label: Barsuk
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop
Say Hi to Growing Up Eric Elbogen used to make emo that sounded embarrassed to be emo. His songs, recorded by his lonesome on his laptop, charmed with a bleary-eyed youthfulness, cross-breeding lyrics about spaceships and not getting laid with piecemeal production sensibilities—he played his instruments just well enough to get by, offering his one-man-band odes in half-whispered, closely miked breaths, possibly out of fear of waking his apartment neighbors. (“Hey, kids—turn down that damn amp machine!”) Is this even the same person? On Um, Uh Oh, Elbogen’s seventh full-length, he sounds like he’s undergoing a confidence readjustment in real time, adopting a raspy, forceful vocal delivery and a thicker production punch that suggests that he’s either purchased better recording software or moved in next to more lenient neighbors (“Just make sure you stop the racket by midnight!”).
In our current media-oversaturated culture, it’s not only possible for a band to become a household name after playing a handful of gigs, it has become the norm. Then there’s the case of 34-year-old Eric Elbogen, a singer-songwriter whose decade-long list of career deflating obstacles includes sparsely attended tours, an amusing amount of line-up changes, and one very unamusing band name (Say Hi to Your Mom). Despite the fact that his band has “broken up 37 times”, Elbogen has bravely soldiered forward, releasing a new album almost every year since 2002, and eventually finding a home on the Barsuk label.
Eric Elbogen is like the alternative-universe version of M. Ward, operating in a parallel reality where the indie singer/songwriter is too socially awkward to even say hello to ingénue Zooey Deschanel, much less start the mainstream-skirting She & Him with her, and ends up retreating further and further into himself to create his creaky-voiced, tuneful bursts of bedsitter pop as a one-man band. Multi-instrumental songsmith Elbogen has been making music under the Say Hi banner since 2002, having shortened it from the rather more adolescent-sounding Say Hi to Your Mom in 2008.
Like Prince changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol, Eric Elbogen's switch from the juvenile mouthful Say Hi to Your Mom to simply Say Hi marked a significant transition. While the Purple One's new moniker was willfully inscrutable, the motivation for Elbogen's truncation to Say Hi was obvious: At a certain age, it starts to look a little immature to identify yourself with a "your mom" joke (especially while singing power-pop songs about spaceships, vampires, snowcones, and puppies). And so, since 2008's The Wishes and the Glitch, his first as Say Hi, Elbogen has been settling comfortably into indie pop middle age, slowing down his tempos and digging for deeper veins of sad-sackery.
Say Hi always delivers mixtape manna, charmingly awkward and unassuming odes of musical mumblecore. Eric Elbogen's is a lonely kind of love and affection, dreaming at bedroom walls of worlds in adolescent fantasies that ache with a touching sincerity and wit even when yearning for robots. With his seventh album overall and third since shortening his moniker to simply Say Hi, Seattle's Ferocious Moper continues to shake off his former lo-fi sonics without losing the aesthetic.