Picture Death From Above 1979 melded with Beck and Big Data. That’s what Elephant Stone sounds like to me and with their newest release, Ship of Fools. The Montreal-based band returns with some groovy, pop jams that fans of the aforementioned bands will surely dig.
“Manipulator” kicks off the record with an explosion of sound that gives you the impression this record couldn’t wait any longer for you to click play. It features tons of layering of various instruments that immediately reminded me of Beck. This track is acoustic guitar meets processed drum beat and a synth in the verses, while the choruses are brought to life thanks to great vocal harmonies. “Where I’m Going” follows with a moody introduction and bass-heavy jam in the verses, drawing obvious similarities to DFA1979. Two songs in and they’re both catchy—nice.
The production on this record is excellent. The layering of all the instruments and their respective effects mix nicely. The arranging of the parts is also very nicely done: though there are a ton of sound effects, audio textures, and instruments on each song, they each get a moment in the spotlight, which keeps the mix focused and entertaining. “Cast The First Stone” brings me back to Beck’s Guero, featuring fuzzy bass lines, groovy synthesizer leads, and some extra percussion. Though this album is going to be released in mid-September, I’m getting great summertime party vibes listening to it. It’s an easy-going, fun, pop record that would easily fit in a playlist with Magic City Hippies. The song ends by picking up momentum and veering to a noise-rock finish, distortion seemingly applied to each instrument, upping the chaotic quality of the music before an abrupt finish.
“Photograph” is one of my favourite songs on Ship of Fools. If you’re still waiting for the next Ambulance LTD album, this track should tide you over for the time being. It’s a delicate track that combines pop hooks with a healthy dose of melancholy. The synthesizers that kick off “See The Light” remind me of a mix between those heard at the beginning of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” and something you’d hear at an EDM show. They introduce a rock song that I could definitely picture in some large outdoor venue on a sunny evening in June. The bridge on this one features a fantastic use of effects. If you’re into lush reverbs and a wide stereo spectrum, go to 1:56.
“Run, Sister, Run” drew comparisons to one of my favourite songwriters: Sam Roberts. It’s a slower track that lights up for a minute near the end and is trailed by “Love Is Like A Spinning Wheel,” a little pop gem that made me think of Miniature Tigers. “Andromeda” is a track graced with beautiful synthesizers, epic production, and even a few well-placed hits on a tabla. “The Devil’s Shelter (Feat. Alex Maas)” will appeal to Kasabian fans, with a steady rock beat, tremolo-laden synthesizer, explosive drums, and raunchy guitars. The odd sitar line thrown in added sonic depth to this track. If you want a track to run to, here it is. “Silence Can Say So Much” began with a tabla, sitar, and synth jamming out before collapsing for the first vocal lines. It’s a beautiful song that I guess falls into the “world” genre, though retaining those pop hooks this band creates. Ship of Fools ends with a tune sung through a vocoder in French, titled “Au Gallis.” If you’ve read this far, I’ll assume you’ll be listening to the entire album so I’ll let you discover this badass track for yourself.
Writing music reviews can occasionally push you out of your comfort zone, but with Ship of Fools, I’ve found a band that combines all my favourite music styles into one awesome, locally-grown audio trip that I’ll be purchasing upon its release. The music is catchy, expertly produced, and is varied enough to keep your interest from start to finish. Now, that’s what I call a winner.
Written by Dave Tone
*edited by Danielle Kenedy