Elvis Perkins has been missing in action since the pulsating Americana of 2009's "In Dearland" which followed the even better debut album 2007's "Ash Wednesday" containing one of the songs of the decade "While you were sleeping". This new album "I Aubade" has been released with little fanfare but arrived on this "stereo" with considerable anticipation. Sadly it is a bit of disappointment. It is an album with all the signs of a songwriter steering the ship into the wrong port and with Perkins determination to self produce voices that could have urged caution have been absent.
Perkins has issued a long statement to support the album and here is a flavour of it. He proposes that it comprises "Pink and white Mini Moog waves; man receives the heart of a hog and undergoes spiritual transformation; AM waves run off with fluorescent wives-to-be; the living become dead and are brought back again; barking waves, interior waves, static waves. Dewan oscillators turn medicine Tarkas". Should you desire more of this pretentious waffle the statement continues at length. The problem is that somewhere in the mix lies a singer songwriter who is trying too hard but has largely failed in his determination to do something different. There are some great tracks here especially the excellent "& Eveline" where Perkins voice is as better than ever and it echoes the best of his previous works. The single "Hocus Pocus" is full of humorous wordplay, has a slightly Eastern feel and plays well on repeated listens. The spooky "The passage of the Black gene" is a swirling track and well constructed. Other songs alternatively are buried so deeply in all the quirky instrumentation and songs packed with lacklustre melodies which adds little to their central core. Music should challenge and push boundaries but on "I Aubade" there is nothing boundary breaking and nothing that demands it taking up any significant time on your turntable. Some songs like "On Rotation Moses" are full of percussive ruckus and undoubtedly very clever. But the prospect of them being a first choice listen are remote, Others like "I came for fire" seem to be written for the backing singers and are actually rather dull.
Overall the lack of really memorable songs on "I Aubade" will unfortunately condemn this album to the outskirts of music in 2015 when an artist as good as Perkins should be centre stage. Hopefully in his extended period of absence other songs were recorded that can address this misstep on future releases.
Review by Red on Black