The Elliots evade traditional Swedish pop stereotyping, exchanging key-led twinkles and exuberant string-soaked choruses for moody ambience. The strings and keys remain, as seem the Swedish custom, but are presented with bleaker and darker tones that rely more on evolving moods than receptive hooks. On their new album Love|Decay, producer Charles Storm helped the Gothenburg-based quartet increase their atmospheric versatility, resulting in a meshing of emotive American folk-rock groups like The National, The Walkmen, and The Antlers with traditional Brit-pop in the vein of The Auteurs and Gene. The band members themselves say REM, Nick Cave, and The Killers were vital influences as well, with glimpses of all three showing in the billowing fury of “Search and Disbelief”. As the album’s opener, it showcases a chiming chorus backed by roaring guitars and steady cinematic strings. As one of the album’s more stylistically expectable efforts, it is an excellent choice for opener, as the ambition only grows from there.
“When Evil Happens” is sure to be the hit, or at least one of them, off Love|Decay. The bellowing voice of Petur Olafsson mixes elegantly with guest singer Camela Leierth; they form a duet that coincides beautifully with the band’s slick incorporations of soul and suave rock. As their American and European influences remain intact, the song is of great similarity to the oft-underrated Mono in VCF, fetishists of Phil Spector-produced moroseness. “When Evil Happens” is a track that’s easy to love and appreciate. The minimalistic beauty of “Desolate (L´Étranger)” intertwines a simple piano melody with somber guitar progressions, resembling the frail Brit-pop beauty of The Auteurs and Suede. It concludes with a gospel choir – “I won’t cry at the funeral, why should I even care? / You just won’t be around no more” – that initiates a shrill organ accompaniment, with the guitar maintaining its solidarity even as the various vocal accompaniments pick up their intensity. Just as the track begins to bellows into an epic procession, it descends again into a lushly barren beauty.
The moody alt-rock of The Killers and The National is best heard on “Hold On”, a track that opens with teasing muted guitar chords that later produce exhilarating guitar shrills and heavy percussion that boast an anthemic feel. After subsiding into a sober organ-induced chorus, the brooding guitar buzz and shimmering keys provide a rare instance of jubilance for a band that often ventures into darker territory, at least on Love|Decay. It’s a demonstration of The Elliots’ rare grasp of their influences; the common thread between acts like The National, The Auteurs, REM, and Nick Cave – despite their wandering stylistic differences – is that they produce heavily emotional songs, but not those that are overly stuffy. Amidst the gloomy epics, they offer plenty of sun-bursting infectiousness. The Elliots’ ability to juggle their dark juggernauts with more radio-friendly efforts, and occasionally interweave the two, is one of their strengths and will be one of the reasons for Love|Decay’s future success.
RIYL: The National, Mono in VCF, The Antlers, Interpol, Frightened Rabbit, The Walkmen, REM, Nick Cave, The Killers, Gene, The Auteurs, Blur, Black Box Recorder