Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

EL VY – Return to the Moon

Next up: A National side project, disemconsonanted…


Thomas Inskeep: I couldn’t pick the National out of an Amerindie lineup, but this collab between their lead singer and a guy from Menomena is lovely, very much on a Kaputt tip, only inserting circa-’83 soft rock instead of circa-’81 jazzy rock. This moves and twists, with some Nile Rodgers-ish guitar and disco-y high hats, alongside an organ sounding like it was lifted from “I Can’t Tell You Why,” while still staying true to its indie rock roots. Matt Berninger’s vocal shows off actual emotion, too.

Alfred Soto: For years I’ve wanted Matt Berninger to choose a different single malt scotch before reading his notes at the mic, so I should express more gratitude towards hearing that reluctant whimper against crypto-funk guitar and the kind of rhythm track that you and I can assemble because we’re as smart as he.

Patrick St. Michel: This is the worst SpaceX ad I’ve ever heard.

Megan Harrington: Not a leap from The National’s jauntiest early track (there were some!) and — I can’t express how gratefully — capable of being understood, even enjoyed, without its desperate and suffocating surrounding concept. Like anything that’s supposed to supply plot, narration, and scenery all at once, “Return to the Moon” is too long and too loose, but I like Matt Berninger’s voice enough to be amused by this curio. 

Jonathan Bogart: The irony of me, repressed masculinity in person, wanting a little — or any — emotional floridity from a man’s vocals is not lost on me, but compare Berninger’s muttered lounge-disco to the fey British men who in the ’80s would have sunk their teeth into a backing track like that, and lament the loss of queerness and soulfulness in college rock over the past thirty years.

Juana Giaimo: Menomena is too messy, The National too depressing with no reason. But together they’re not bad. 

Ramzi Awn: Perfectly lovely indie boy pop. London has never sounded so contrived, but I’d settle for that kiss in the moonlight.

Iain Mew: There’s a certain way of talking that I sometimes retreat too when on the verge of being emotionally overwhelmed, sounding exaggeratedly flat and matter of fact because anything less controlled feels too difficult and risky. Matt Berninger’s vocals, particularly in mid-tempo songs, always remind me of that mode, and the resultant on-the-edge feel is one of his biggest strengths. The National’s music, though, has recently been too often similarly flat for it to work to its best. “Return to the Moon” doesn’t change much — I recognised Berninger as singer and songwriter immediately without knowing it was him — but pairing that containment with something lighter and even slightly funky gives it a new lease of life. When he eventually collapses to weariness, it hits harder for it.

Reader average: [5.66] (3 votes)

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2 Responses to “EL VY – Return to the Moon”

  1. Definitely agree with Jonathan’s assessment of the vocals here. It’s kind of frustrating to listen to actually.

  2. If you want to talk about repressed masculinity, listen to the follow up song “I’m The Man To Be” (which, by the way, is superior and a much better match of vocals to music.)