The first rule is fine. The second only works sometimes, if I were reviewing the B-side to his new single, a cover of the Violent Femmes' Kiss Off, I could abide. It ought to cause Victor DeLorenzo bigger eye rolls than when Brian Wilson pointed to Lake Michigan and asked him "What ocean is that?" Enough said.
Devils, on the other hand, has me looking forward to the late January release of "Um, Uh Oh," produced by Barsuk Records. It originally debuted as a free download on Spin and the Gossip Girls. It makes the upcoming album worth watching for.
The label says the album captures a much more weary and "blue-noted, revealing, personal and pained" expressiveness that most wouldn't associate with Elbogen. The more mature sound might even be considered another progression in what sometimes seems like a near-reclusive singer/songwriter slipping toward an emotional meltdown.
Right. He is not reclusive in the isolated, never performing sense. He is reclusive in that most of his work is recorded alone in his home studio. When he's done with an album he solicits musicians to join him on tour. So, really, Say Hi is Elbogen and whomever goes along for the ride.
"The album [um, uh oh] is about being a 33-year-old musician, and the joys and difficulties that it involves," Elbogen told Spin. "When I look at other people my age that I've known from high school or from college, and I compare the two lifestyles, it's interesting and sometimes times frustrating. And the constant, consistent failing relationships with the people who play in my band — it starts to wear you down."
The steady beated single Devils is straightforward and riveting in that Elbogen contemplates if he can turn back on a path of depression and bitterness. The Devil doesn't want him to. But the thing about Elbogen is, even when he is serious about his own situation, he adds enough weight to the song that you can tell he's mocking himself too.
That's part of the hook. Elbogen is an artist who inspires because he writes music he can be proud of as opposed to writing for the masses. In fact, the more he thinks about mass appeal, the more stressed out he becomes. It's part of the pains of being a self-described nerd musician. Take this track from a live performance. You tell me.
Some people say his sense of pop structure and melody are his greatest strengths, but the real payoff is in the lyrics. Even when he makes stuff up, there is somber sadness about him and what he writes.
He's also one of the most nervous, nicest musicians in the business. Lately, the drift from indie pop fables to indie rock reality has been compelling to watch. Keep it up, without getting lost.
Devils By Eric Elbogen (Say Hi) Climbs To 9.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
Devils isn't the first time Elbogen has experimented with a rock and not pop sound. His rock version of Prince of Darkness delivered a richer, more brooding sound than the original. So if you've ever seen him live, you already know what to expect next year. I commend him for that. The new sounds fits him and his lyrics all the better.
You can get the free download via the Spin link above or support the artist by picking Devils up off iTunes. It is not available on Amazon. You can also say hi to Elbogen on Facebook. Wish him some happy holidays. And ladies, he's single.