Elvis Depressedly: California Dreamin’ (Favourite Track: Angle Come Clean)
Is not exactly a name you can drop in a casual conversation about bands. You can’t nod and agree with that stranger you’re stranded with at this party that ‘yeah that Blink 182’s new album wasn’t ‘’that’’ bad’… Then talk about the kind of music that would typically characterise that of a depressed angst riddled teen. At least not without garnering a few strange glances, but hey that was going to happen anyway. Though in many ways Mat Cothran and Delaney Mills’ sound has always sort of embodied that awkward sideways look. Despite the impenetrable appearance albums by lo-fi, hipsters that use random apostrophes have, the music in Dreamin’ is pretty casual easy listening. It’s an appropriate sequel to that stage in your life where you were just cutting your teeth on cynicism and introspection. Maybe you grew your hair out or became a communist or even tore down your Sonic the Hedgehog posters to show two fingers to the man. Despite however old I get, actually maybe because of it I feel a growing insatiable need to not forget that stage in my life. California Dreamin’ is at its core a good excuse to remember.
The album is a bit of an anomaly in their repertoire. Most of it salvaged material from previously unreleased songs recorded inside seedy hotel room’s way back in 2013. The sound’s considerable stripped down compared to their recent releases and the production values are terribly low. It takes away a bit of the punch Cothran’s delivery typically has though that’s par for the course in this indie lo-fi genre. The distortion and thin vocals give the album that comfortably twee campus radio twang that you might hear drifting from a dorm window or screeching from some junk car owned by a hippy slacker. The vocals, are dreamy and a little poppy and though the lyrics are Elvis Depressedly ‘sad’ ™ it retains that raw intimacy that makes their sound so compelling.
The sound of Elvis Depressedly much like my angst is not unique as it once was. Teen Suicide, who have just been resurrected by Depressedly’s own record label Running for Cover had a much stronger release with ‘It’s the Big Joyous Celebration’ just two months before. Teen Suicide also wins in the edgy band name category. Though maybe Depressedly can claw back some cred with a few more random apostrophes and even an umlaut thrown in for good measure.
Still a special place remains in my heart for Elvis Depressedly. When I first heard the album it was like I had heard it before, like I knew it. Not literally of course but it reawakened that teen edge in me. That nostalgic list of songs I’d listen to on repeat and soaked in. It’s an album that couldn’t be further from a solitary experience. It’s so mired in the past work of its creators and their influences. To consider California Dreamin’ as that alone would be a discredit to what the band has transformed into. Their last album boldly claimed that ‘the sad songs were over’, which in a shameful way was disheartening. Because I had the misconception that sad is kind of all Elvis Depressedly ever is. I think California Dreamin’ proves me wrong. The album is the fleeting feeling of hesitant hope that can follow in the wake of devastating depression. Elvis Depressedly was never ‘just sad’, they were always just themselves.