El Vy - Return To The Moon - CD
EL VY (pronounced like a plural of Elvis; rhymes with ‘hell pie’) is the musical collaboration between Matt Berninger, vocalist and lyricist of The National, and Brent Knopf, the Portland musician and producer best known for his work in Menomena and more recent band Ramona Falls.
The album is a project Berninger and Knopf have been thinking about for years. Their friendship spans nearly a decade, starting back when the National and Menomena played small half empty clubs along America’s west coast. Feeling an immediate musical kinship, the pair kept in touch, Brent sending Matt occasional rough sketches of music and Matt responding with melodies and lyrics. Finally, in the winter and spring of 2014-15, they actually got together to make an album.
Return To The Moon sounds exactly like you’d hope a collaboration between these artists would: Berninger’s darkly funny, lyrical storytelling and his immediately identifiable sense of melody offset by Knopf’s playful, architectural arrangements and inventive production. Knopf explains, “I never worried about sending Matt something unfinished. He’s able to imagine where it can go. He can grab the four bars that will become the core of the track and develop them into something amazing.”
The National and Ramona Falls are both currently preparing upcoming releases, so EL VY is not a replacement or a side project, but a glimpse into an alternate musical universe: a universe in which Berninger never left Cincinnati, and Midwestern punk Mecca the Jockey Club never closed. A universe in which Mike Watt and the late D. Boon of the punk band Minutemen are every bit as iconic as Mick and Keith, and a teenager’s sense of rebellion is fed by the dark social politics of middle America.
Following in the footsteps of the album’s titular track (full name: ‘Return to the Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloome to Sing, with Crescendo)’) comes the playful and posturing ‘I’m The Man To Be’ - a track that intriguingly causes Brent to muse: "I don't know if this song will make it easier or harder for EL VY to get a belt sponsorship".