Atlanta-based psych rock pioneers Elf Power are back at it, releasing their thirteenth full-length album on May 12, Twitching in Time, via their own label, Orange Twin Records. The psych-rock power group has been on the scene since 1994, making a name for themselves as purveyors of folk and psych rock in the Atlanta area.
Twitching in Time is a culmination of where Elf Power have been and where they’re headed. It’s a mix of folk tunes and psych rock that’s still relevant in today’s indie world. And while there’s a familiarity to their sound, like a clearly enunciated Pixies, there’s a nostalgic quality about their works that demonstrates just how long they’ve been at this.
The album opens with “Halloween Out Walking,” a dark track featuring a melody reminiscent of Duran Duran’s “Rio,” but at a quarter of the tempo. The song makes use of a Moog synthesizer, which adds an appropriate, eerie quality. Then, “Ten Dollars on the Ground” moves into psych rock territory with driving guitar and drums. “Watery Shreds” is another dark one, featuring pedal-laden piano and screeching guitars. “The Cat Trapped in the Wall” and “Withered Husk” showcase the folk-inspiration more diligently than the rest of the album.
Standouts include the psych rock-driven “Sniper in the Balcony” and the dreamy, indie sounds of “All Things Combined.” Additionally, several of the slower tracks have some stunning moments, such as the folk-inspired “In a Room,” as well as the ending of “Too Many Things In My Hands,” which briefly veers into a psych jam session after starting off delicate and brooding. “Cold Vines” carries a melody all too familiar, but is breezy and catchy. Finally, the closing track, “Gorging on the Feast,” ends Twitching in Time on a slow, somber note, featuring minor guitar arpeggios and slide guitars over a slow tempo, but packs a powerhouse of a six-string sound during the chorus that makes for a strong finish.
While it’s clear that Elf Power demonstrate mastery in their craft, in all thirteen tracks, only a handful truly stand out. The Atlanta group favor simple, catchy beats and melodies with repetitive hooks, resulting in an album with songs that, for the most part, blend together. The catchiness that Elf Power achieve can in itself be dubbed as pleasant psych rock. Is it life-changing? Not really, but for fans of indie and psych rock, it’s definitely worth a listen.