The Elected Sun, Sun, Sun

[Sub Pop; 2006]

Styles: alt-country, indie pop, neo-psychedelia
Others: Beachwood Sparks, Bright Eyes, Elliott Smith

Just as winter doldrums are clamping down on many, it can be handy to have a little something sunny on tap in the musical rotation; and with that in mind, The Elected may be timing the release of their sophomore effort, Sun, Sun, Sun, quite fortuitously. Although mastermind Blake Sennett, who spends a lot of his time with his other band, Rilo Kiley, continued to self-record much of the music for this new album, his skills have obviously blossomed, opening up from the clean, but still lo-fi, aesthetic of Me First into a brighter and more joyous sound overall. This shift in production style coupled with the generally more positive tilt of the song lyrics makes for an album with some truly infectious moments of uplift.

If there is a consistent theme to the album, it's looking at the bright side of your situation, whatever it may be (I guess that's a pretty easy sentiment to feel when you're a member of a relatively successful indie band and your side project is on Sub Pop). The pervasive "you" of the lyrics is always addressed in a "gee, aren't we lucky" or "we can make it" manner. For instance, "Would You Come with Me" functions as a gentle yet upbeat assertion that Sennett has the strength to leave "if you'd come with" him. In the title track, he claims that "you'll pull through, you'll pull through, you'll pull through." Even "Old Times," a slower country lament, seems to insist that you and Sennett could regain that good feeling of the past again with just a little effort.

Schmaltziness is the only real pitfall here. Certain tracks like "Did Me Good" put on the earnestness a bit too much -- call it Oberstian overstatement if you will. The overindulgence works to make the song seem like an in-joke that doesn't quite arrive at a punchline, given that the lyrical content is cut from the same cloth as the rest of the songs. Aside from such minor inconsistencies (which some listeners may find endearing), the album achieves its purpose and will make all but the most cynical listeners feel reassured and content after listening. Moreover, one gets the feeling that Sennett will continue to grow and evolve as an artist for a long time to come.

1. Clouds Parting (8:14 a.m.)
2. Would You Come with Me
3. Fireflies in a Steel Mill
4. Not Going Home
5. It Was Love
6. Sun, Sun, Sun
7. Did Me Good
8. The Bank and Trust
9. Old Times
10. Desiree
11. I'll Be Your Man
12. Beautiful Rainbow
13. Biggest Star
14. At Home (Time Unknown)

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