Review: Elvis Depressedly - "New Alhambra"

Elvis Depressedly - New Alhambra
(2015 Run For Cover)

"No more sad songs," Mat Cothran whispered over the lead single of his recently released LP, New Alhambra, "I love everyone I've ever known". His November release of the "n.m.s.s." video seemed to indicate a radical paradigm shift in store for his Elvis Depressedly project: out with gloom and despair that saturated his earlier work - in with a slightly more upbeat, (yet luckily no less lo-fi) sound. In the context of New Alhambra, "No More Sad Songs" feels like self-aware joke in an album that wallows in its own self-loathing. If anything, the new album is an updated, more polished version of the signature blend of crunchy, fuzzed-out timbres that Cothran has established over the past six years. 

Though New Alhambra might sound the name of a cult, a quick google search reveals that it's actually the former home of now-defunct pro wrestling promotion ECW. If author John Updike was known for "giving the mundane its beautiful due", then Mat Cothran should be known for extracting a creepy, phantasmal aesthetic from the same source. In keeping with this ghostly vibe, Cothran's material for the new album is airy and hollow: sour, twangy guitars squelch against a backdrop of tape hiss, watery keyboard pulses coat his music like a thin film, and, as usual, his vocals echo and phase into an endless void as if he's cartoonishly contacting us from the great beyond. Strings buzz like insects on "Thall Shall Not Murder", "n.m.s.s" and "New Heaven New Earth". The latter of those three tracks is my favorite on the whole album, driven by an eerie drum machine rhythm and swirling keyboard pads. Though not a radical departure from anything he's done in the past New Alhambra is the finest installment in the Elvis Depressedly discography.