Listen Up: Wednesday May 23, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Elf Power

Creatures (SpinArt)

By Christy Goldfinch

The Elephant 6 Collective is kind of like a hippie commune: The loose-knit clan of indie-rock bands lives cheap, swaps members, and shares a back-to-the-garden aesthetic. Elf Power is not as surreal or quirky as its better-known lo-fi cohorts The Olivia Tremor Control (whose members regularly contribute to Elf Power’s albums) or Apples in Stereo. But over the past seven years and five full-lengths, the Athens, Ga., band has become one of the shining lights of the collective.

Creatures combines two retro notions: neopsychedelia and the concept album. The opening track, “Let the Serpent Sleep,” sets the stage with gentle, melodic pop featuring Kinks-ian organ and economical lyrics: “Day turns into night / The dog will always bite / The serpent’s on the ground / He laughs without a sound.” In subsequent songs, slimy things crawl out of the water, beasts slink in the sewers, and one nightmare follows another. Intriguingly, the music doesn’t match: Strumming guitars and gentle cymbal washes turn “Three Seeds” hypnotic, and the folksy sea-shanty “Unseen Hand” sounds like something Quint and Brody would chant while in search of Jaws.

If all the slimy-creature talk is a fable, the moral is in the last song, as singer Andrew Rieger languidly explains: “Nothing is real / Nothing is sane / The beast is never tame / ... Only in the creature can you trust.” It’s beautiful and comforting, and nicely wraps up a strange but cohesive album of engaging cosmic lo-fi.



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