Let it be known, if it isn’t already, that Elvis Depressedly/Coma Cinema/Mat Cothran is a relentless maker of genius bummer-pop jamz. The new ED release, ‘Holo Pleasures’, drops tomorrow via Birdtapes and is literally the only thing I’ve listened to in the last week besides Britney Spears so I am SICED.
While you’re waiting for tomorrow to happen you can listen to other Birdtapes releases here and read these words I wrote on ‘Holo Pleasures’ for The 405 below.
Review: Elvis Depressedly – Holo Pleasures
If we learned anything at all from chillwave it’s that sometimes it’s acceptable for strength of songwriting to take the backseat as long as the VIBE is on point, which sounds like a load of vapid nonsense but let’s be real, like, WAVVES is great but mostly if you wanna feel stoned without actually smoking weed. And that doesn’t make the music any less authentic, it just means the hooks lie in the sensations rather than the melodies. But if you can nail both, you’ve hit on something truly special – and that’s exactly what South Carolina-based bummer pop trio, Elvis Depressedly, has managed to do.
Holo Pleasures is Elvis Depressedly’s sixth release, but the first that has been written and recorded as a full band. Prior to Holo Pleasures, the project was the solo effort of Mat Cothran (Coma Cinema), whose music has always expressed a similar, bleary mix of sadness and sentimentality to early Bright Eyes, but in far fewer words. Lyrically, Cothran is casual, conversational and intimate. Wielding his succinct style like a pinhole camera, he takes a journey around his own head, capturing each mood in its own frame of bewitching melody.
Fleshed out with the recent addition of Delany Mills on drums and Eric Jones on bass, Holo Pleasures is a collection of six glassy-eyed love letters that linger somewhere between My Bloody Valentine’s lighter work and what Elliot Smith would sound like if he’d ever picked up a Casio MT500 and made a detour into lo-fi pop.
Recorded live to tape, the analogue warmth of Holo Pleasures feels thick-headed and enveloping, like sitting in a room full of smoke. It’s bleak, but not without a sunny side. It’s a head full of fluoxetine, the musical manifestation of every bedroom-dweller’s emotional spectrum, the soundtrack to your first crush, to slow-motion mental montage’s of coastal sunsets, to being stoned alone and staring at the gaps between tree leaves. It is – to borrow a line from ‘pepsi/coke suicide’ – “the dull, aching heart of everyone.”
With shoulder-shrugging lines like “Who cares, been breaking, fuck off,” ‘teeth’ perfectly evokes the more self-destructive side of anxiety through warped, rippling vocals and percussion that pounds like a migraine. This is probably Cothran’s darkest moment on a record that consistently toes the often self-destructive line between pleasure and boredom.
From the shimmering summer-goth love note ‘weird honey’ in which Cothran is all about “getting off on death” to the string-soaked closer ‘thinning out’, Holo Pleasures has vibes for days, but each track is a moment of pop brilliance as well as being chill as hell. It definitely has elements of that age-old “comfort in being sad” mantra that has driven singer-songwriters for generations, but there’s also a total absence of embellishment. Even in the way it was recorded, Holo Pleasures feels as natural as music can be in every way possible – sincerely emotional without the need to be painfully wrung out. As the name suggests, Elvis Depressedly is gloomy and seductive in equal measure, but Holo Pleasures makes for comforting company whether you’re sad or not.
Originally published on The 405 here.