Elf Power, Back To The Web
Quirky Georgia collective rolls the dice and goes for folk.
After long lurking in the shadow of more momentous Elephant 6 collective peers like Neutral Milk Hotel and Olivia Tremor Control, Elf Power has taken on a certain amount of significance simply by outlasting the other bands in its orbit. While time is easy to accrue, though, it's harder to account for that rare quality that makes precious few indie-rock bands actually improve more than a decade down the line. On Back to the Web, the group's eighth album, that quality comes off as something like poise: Rather than gasp through grand gestures, Elf Power simply breathes through songs that strip psychedelic pop down to the bones of old British folk.
"Come Lie Down with Me (and Sing My Song)" sets the tone with blurry folk guitar, lilting cello and a rootsy acoustic bass pulse. "An Old Familiar Scene" introduces two more tropes: moodily metronomic drums and strong melodic rounds that give Andrew Rieger's sweet voice a haunted slant. Even the most expansive rock songs ("Somewhere Down the River," the relaxed T. Rex vamp "All the World Is Waiting") share a sparseness with more gentle folk tunes suited for driving through the Scottish countryside. And all of it is straightforward and self-assured, like a smart mix of Steeleye Span and late-period R.E.M.