If in the minds of many, at least to those looking in from the opposite shores of that big old ocean as I am, music from the great state of Texas conjures ideas of outlaw country bands, boogie bluesmen and the cross cultural beat of the borders spicy groove, then Elmont are determined to write a whole new chapter in the musical history books. Pop, rock and indie sounds all mix with ease on their self-titled EP, but everyone and their uncle are doing that sort of thing these days, so why do these Dallas boys get it so right when so many others clearly miss the point.
I guess the obvious starting point is that they write good songs, often great songs and rather than start with a sound and look for a hit, they nail down the basics, the song-crafting and the penmanship and then give the song what it needs to fly and importantly never more than what it actually needs. No showboating, no unnecessary complexities or ego driven musical self-aggrandising, far from it. Space, atmosphere and anticipation are used so well in the songs that you could almost credit them as members of the band on the back cover.
And if Home was the early teaser for the EP it was also the perfect calling card, encompassing the vibe of the band in glorious fashion. Infectious, sing along qualities, brooding strings, lovely guitar details sitting well down in the layers of the song and a skittering beat made it, for all its restraint, an anthem ready slice of indie-pop. And it is in that ability to sound so big with so few musical tools that you find their universal charm.
Nothing In Particular…..in particular, shows off their ability to take simple hooks, playful dynamics and a chilled and groovesome rhythm, and make it stand ten times higher than it should, and that is of course the art of it. It doesn’t sound big because they have thrown layer after layer of instrumentation in and turned the volume up, it sounds big because it is accessible, vibrant, hookier that a Peter Pan convention and most importantly memorable. And then they fill the rest of the ep with similarly fine songs!
Apartment is the obligatory slow jam but again done better than most, blending staccato chord strikes, chiming piano and smooth and meandering guitar passages and Drama Queen reveals a little bit of their southern roots, an old school country groove for a new generation.
The appeal is easy to see, commercial enough for the mainstream pop-picker, slick enough for a more mature audience, virtuosic enough to hold their own in the toughest of music bars and with enough alt- or indie- credentials that even the underground movers and shakers will cast an ear in its direction. Finely crafted music with massive mainstream appeal? Whatever will they think of next?