Single Review: EL VY – Return to the Moon

By on Thursday, 20th August 2015 at 1:00 pm

The National frontman Matt Berninger has joined forces with Portland-based producer and musician Brent Knopf (Menomena, Ramona Falls) on a new side project called EL VY (the second syllable rhymes with “eye”). The pair will release their debut LP ‘Return to the Moon’ on the 30th of October on 4AD, but the fresh and unexpected sound of its title track is already making waves around the Internet.

‘Return to the Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloome to Sing, with Crescendo)’ is surprisingly light-hearted and relaxed, with an air of easy confidence compared to Berninger’s heavier and more self-conscious work with The National. Knopf provides a nimble instrumental context whose tempo and texture deftly fluctuate between the slower, stripped back verses and the quick dance rhythm of the chorus. Shuffling percussion and concise, catchy guitar riffs draw attention to Berninger’s poised, even vocals. Despite the subtitle, there is no obvious dynamic crescendo to be heard, and Berninger wisely keeps his melodic delivery minimal, allowing the abstract prose of his lyrics to speak for itself.

The track’s lengthy subtitle doesn’t give much of a clue to the song’s overall meaning. Certainly the lines “I’m so excited the senator’s a fighter / don’t tell me nothing’s changed” have a political overtone to them, but the preceding lyric “went to bed and woke up inside another man’s head / nobody noticed”, might leave you with a lingering mental question mark. Regarding the eponymous Didi Bloome, Berninger’s remarks in the press release for the single shed some light on the subject: “This record is more autobiographical than anything else I’ve written, but the details aren’t true. It’s written in the voices of a few invented characters, composites of different people–myself, my wife, and other people I was thinking about.”


The lyric video for ‘Return to the Moon’, directed by Michael Brown and Tom Berninger, is a lo-fi, black and white glimpse into EL VY’s studio process. You can dance to the track’s infectious disco beat along with Matt Berninger by watching it just below. Berninger and Knopf will take EL VY on tour in North America in November, starting with two dates in Knopf’s home base of Portland before heading to Europe in December. The details of their scheduled dates in England and Ireland are this way.


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