Sacramento band Eli and the Sound Cult, composed of Elijah Jenkins (guitar, vocals, key, and samples) and Jason Bove (bass), describe themselves as an “indie-neo-electro-pseudo-soul duo.” The five songs on the band’s newest EP, So Much Yes, do not suggest quite this level of genre crossing, though they do rise and fall with sublimated anguish.
Perhaps the best example of this is their song “Come Back,” the fourth track on the EP. A sample, cutting in and out as if from static, warns us: “We will not be held responsible for any hearing impairments or damage caused to you from excessive exposure to this sound.” This antagonistic, apathetic attitude is represented throughout the EP. After this warning comes Bove’s righteous bass. His melody grabs hold of the listener’s shirt and pulls them into the soundscape. An electric keyboard fills the scape with wind while the minimal percussion pulses like a buried heart.
Percussion nerds will appreciate this album. The beat is undeniable. Really, the backbone of the album is the percussion. A true percussionist knows when to come in, when to hold it back, and when to not play altogether. Jenkins punctuates his songs with the right amount of drums, never too much yet never too little. A good example of this is the song “When It Is Done.” A driving kick drum alternates between a sporadic snare with accompanying hi-hat, with the whole thing building to a few bars of artillery fire snare drumming at the end. The combination of the drums and bass makes these songs fun to move to.
Unfortunately, for some listeners, that might be as far as it goes. For its merits, the EP does have the tendency to sound homogeneous, rather than live up to the band’s genre-hopping brand. After multiple listens, the songs remain difficult to distinguish from one another. One reason for this is that, in addition to this, Jenkins’ vocal style comes off as somewhat bored. From “Pedestals,” the album’s first track, come the lyrics: “Easy, slow down motherfucker/You ain’t the one who decides who wins” continuing to “there’s nothing in your heart.” These are strong words. Yet when delivered with Jenkin’s quiet melodic ramble, the final effect is more of a clash than cohesion.
But the personal tastes of one reviewer do not make or break an album. Compelling music has tension and release, peaks and valleys, highs and lows. So Much Yes is well crafted in these regards and the others mentioned above. The songs do not lack substance; they are clearly expressions of an aching pain. Yet the album is a bit of a paradox. The songs themselves possess idiosyncrasies, though when listened back to back it all sounds like one cohesive thing. As for whether or not that is a good thing, listen and find out.
Here is a look at the bands latest video “Pedestals” from EP “So Much Yes”out March 7, 2015.
Words: Evan Nyarady