EL VY – Return to the Moon
Members of the National and Menomena combine on a record that strikes a happy medium between the two
On the artwork for Return to the Moon, the first release from the collaborative vehicle of Matt Berninger of the National and Brent Knopf of Menomena and Ramona Falls, the former has eschewed his trademark solemn rags, the waistcoat being ditched in favour of a white shirt and trouser combo. It’s subtle, but telling: this album is more playful and less grand than the towering quatrains Berninger’s been indulging in on the day shift since 2003’s Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers.
The bouncy title track sets the tone for a chic, intelligent listen. Knopf’s projects have always been more experimental than Berninger’s, and the combination frequently ends up in the goldilocks zone, finding happy mediums on the rollicking Happiness, Missouri; the beautiful No Time to Crank the Sun and the funky I’m the Man to Be. Melodious and inventive, layered but not overly ornate: EL VY’s debut is too fully-formed to be dismissed as a side project. [Finbarr Bermingham]