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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews

9.2

The E.L.F.
Plankton Icke and Tina Turner David City Limits

"I just wanna get these songs out there"

Speaking with a mixture of relief and excitement, Darren Cross (aka The E.L.F), blushes and glances down at his beer for a minute before continuing.

"I'm going to delete all the songs, buy a new hard drive in the new year and start on the next thing"

A few minutes later, as his mind quickly traces back over this statement, he amends this dramatic claim slightly, explaining that before he digitally formats an important part of his life he's planning to "properly archive it all away somewhere."

Closure seems to be a central theme throughout Plankton Icke and Tina Turner David City Limits, Cross' debut full length release which he progressively leaked throughout the tail-end of 2010, before officially "releasing" just before Christmas. When pushed (gently) during our hour long chat, and drowned in another jug of beer (or seven), he admits that the majority of Plankton was recorded about two years ago, off the back of a difficult break-up.

"Let's make some memories worth keeping"

Regret is probably a close second. The opening track Never Again presents itself as a stream of consciousness. Emotional baggage dumping, delivered through gritted teeth and flashes of determination, where nothing is left unsaid. Cross later explains that Never Again is the purest thing on the record, that he woke up one day, put his headphones on and hit record. Words flowed out. Some of them sentences that had been trapped in his head for months and others that he freely admits didn't make much sense at all. It hardly mattered.

"I don't need these lousy memories"

Contradictory and logically limping, but these situations always are. Arguments, explanations and excuses don't flow as smoothly as they do in your head. You can't remember the point you are trying to make. But it's your effort that's important, the emotional waste you're discarding from your brain and heart is just a small part of it. Shit doesn't go down like it does in the movies, no matter how many times you rehearse it. This flawed sense of humanity is the record's finest quality. Cross doesn't focus on anything here. His perspective, thoughts and feelings are unsettled, leaping around the place as he recalls memories, attempts to explain his point of view and occasionally just shuts down, locking everyone out and murmuring some angry words under his breath.

"I can still remember the sound of your car coming home..."

From Never Again the record builds slightly in positivity, with Cross' cheeky personality and his obvious concern for being "too emo" occasionally popping up through mirages of positivity and cleverly disguised behind brave faces and pop masquerades. The side A trio of Ain't Goin' Out Like That, (Fuck You All And) GOODNIGHT and You really LOVE It walk this line best. Backed by an often overly-dramatic sense of pain, uncertainty and optimism, but hazed with Cross' tongue-in-cheek, bubbly personality and awkward charisma, the three songs best articulate the record's hidden level of complexity that's masked by the duct-tape production and Live Journal lyrical brain-unloading.

The record's middle portion is dominated primarily by E.L.F's music rather than his words. While they aren't instrumental tracks, Audrey, Avec Moi.Avec Vous/Runaway and Distant Ping(ECHO Request) switch the focus momentarily, not only through their increased level of production variety, but also on their unexpected twisting and turning, breaking from the more linear paths of the album's earlier pieces and flipping emotional responsibility from the man onto the music.

The two sides then meet up in the middle for Then The Wheels Leave The Ground, where, even though the lyrics are almost completely indecipherable, they still join hands and jog up the mountainous musical accompaniment as it repeatedly builds to a peak, before galloping down the other side, celebrating the record's long awaited first signs of complete carefree-dom.

With a weight roughly the size of planet Earth now removed from his shoulders, it's obviously time to celebrate. The two closing tracks — Will We Ever Know and The Anti Nightmare — overflow with self-confidence and nonchalant euphoria. Musically, they take more of an obvious party route, closer aligned to Rave Cave ELF's glittery early days. While this leap might feel slightly drastic, it makes sense within the confines of the album's cathartic pilgrimage. This record is about sorting shit out, moving on, moving the world as you know if from the pain-and-tonic present into a distant memory in the rearview mirror. And there's only one barrier in the way, breaking through that is the only goal. This record relentlessly fights at this for twenty-or-so minutes, before — somewhere around Distant Ping(ECHO request)/Then the wheels leave the ground — it finds a slight crack. Sunlight shines through and all of a sudden everything seems to be OK.

This album isn't for everybody. Darren, amidst our chat about '90s bands reuniting, beer-powered cars and other silly ideas, acknowledges that the stark honesty and upfrontness of this album is something that many will find unsettling. But for those of us who enjoy their music not only conveying a believable sense of emotion, but also utilised as an artistic outlet for battling through the bullshit of everyday life, this album is an intoxicating cocktail of bummertime bliss. Even if you don't like this record yet, store it somewhere safe, because one day you'll probably need it.

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Record Reviews
The E.L.F.

 

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Comments

urbanspaceman

Nice review, makes me hope he can figure out how to make it work live.

7 years ago

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