Suspended, somehow/ somewhere, between Bright Eyes’ Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and Electric Light Orchestra’s unlistened-to 1980 album Time is Elf Power’s Sunlight on the Moon. As its name should suggest, Sunlight on the Moon is as an unfortunate digital-age mock-up of the free lovin’ psych-pop that came out of Haight Ashbury in the mid-60s and the entirety of Britain since. Unfortunate, because for all its infuriating, damp washcloth nostalgia, Elf Power’s 12th album is still remarkably, disgustingly listenable (well, at least half of it is). To put it bluntly: I hate this album, but only because it’s too timid, too meek, and too generous with its pop nostalgia for me to bite into it in any satisfiable way. It’s like an overripe peach or something more clever than that.
And just like an overripe peach (or the cleverer fruit metaphor), Sunlight on the Moon has a sweet, summery scent to it (mango?). “Things Lost” is a nice offering of folksy acoustic pop, with a vocal melody reminiscent of the medieval twangs found on very early David Bowie and some countrified flecks of Wilco. Highlight “Darkest Wave” has a beat that’s similar to the one on Wolf Parade’s “Modern World”; the song’s rambling decisiveness is slick and sweet, and superbly pop. Later track “Chromosomoe Blues” has some very nice vocal harmonies that twist, albeit briefly, in and out of some fairly inventive melodies.
Conversely, this album sucks. Almost every song has electric guitar parts that sound like they were run through a cheap Garage Band filter before being heaped into the right side of the stereo track. “Strange Designs” sounds like abad killers cover; in fact I had to stop the album for a few minutes and go listen to the killers to wash this one out of my head. THIS ALBUM MADE ME LISTEN TO THE KILLERS WHICH IS UNFORGIVABLE (haha jk Brendon Flowers you boys are alright). The lyrics to “You’re Never Gonna Go to Heaven” remind me of the Arcade Fire and you can divine from this what you will. Unrelatedly, the entirety of Sunlight on the Moon sounds like a song that I think I heard on an episode of Scrubs or a Scrubs-like entity and now cannot get out of my head despite having no idea what it is (if you have any suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
In summary, Sunlight on the Moon is the 2009 George Harrison comeback album that a day drunk Jeff Lynne never got the chance to produce.
That is to say: it’s worth at least one listen.