Nowadays it feels like good comedies are hard to come by; along the same line of thought, it feels harder to find albums that seem to come from a blissful place, without sounding cheesy or artificial. Luckily for us, The Essex Green are now making a very welcome comeback with Merge Records. Just put on ‘Patsy Desmond’ and go back to the first time you’ve played ‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’ in your headphones.
One of the most British-sounding American band in activity (with some Beatles number like ‘January Sky’ and ‘Modern Rain’), The Essex Green play 60-70s inspired pop tunes, with the freshness that is often found in Swedish bands (Sambassadeur and Acid House Kings come to mind, e.g. in ‘Waikiki’ or ‘The 710’) – Sasha Bell even has a very ‘Swedish-sounding’ voice, with a warm, slightly reverberating timbre. Perhaps mellower than their most-known Cannibal Sea, Hardly Electronic embraces a remarkable range of styles, with George Harrison ballads (‘Bristol Sky’) and Johnny Cash-June Carter duets (‘Bye Bye Crow’) casually intervening with power-pop numbers (‘Catatonic’, ‘Don’t Leave It In Our Hands’).
Songs seem to carry a heavier weight, as there is a more pronounced work on arrangements and soundscapes (‘Another Story’), but never to freshness’s detriment. This happens thanks to the great melodic identity of songs (‘Smith & 9th’ being the most glorious representative), that drives what is noticeably a solid, long-lasting record by a very confident band.
Words: Lorenzo Righetto