The Elwins’ Play For Keeps

12th April 2015

Title: Play For Keeps

Label: Affairs Of the Heart

This group has been active since 2008, when they formed in Toronto, Canada. Both singer/guitarist Matthew Sweeney and drummer Travis Stokl met in high school where they dwelled on their fascination for the Flaming Lips. The duo released a self-titled EP in 2008, then added Feurd Moore on guitar and keys, as well as bassist Christopher Shannon. Another EP followed, featuring two additional friends. Line-up changes then occurred and here were are with a new album.

From the first few notes and words of Bubble, a suspiciously happy sounding name for any song, you are hit by a tumult of chirpy cheerfulness. You can almost imagine the lead singer smiling so hard that he’s shows his gums: upper and lower, flings his head around threatening to detach his skull from his spinal column and does all of this is a Ronald McDonald costume with flashing red nose.

Show Me How To Move maintains the happy-chappy mode backed by instrumentals direct from a Monkees TV credits sequence. The sun is shining, blip and bloppy synths zing and pop over their heads and this band is just begging to be sponsored by Colgate.

It Ain’t Over ‘Till It’s Over sounds very boy-band indie rock. You really need to add several teenage girlie screams just about here, guys.

Moving swiftly onwards and we have Off The Wall. No, not Plastic Michael’s last chance to be a human being but another high bouncy tempo track. Very bouncy. The essence of bounciness in fact.

Have you ever listened to the radio version of Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy? There was a section on a space ship that went something like this:

“Listen,” said Ford, who was still engrossed in the sales brochure, “they make a big thing of the ship’s cybernetics. A new generation of Sirius Cybernetics Corporation robots and computers, with the new GPP feature.”

“GPP feature?” said Arthur. “What’s that?”

“Oh, it says Genuine People Personalities.”

“Oh,” said Arthur, “sounds ghastly.”

A voice behind them said, “It is.” The voice was low and hopeless and accompanied by a slight clanking sound. They span round and saw an abject steel man standing hunched in the doorway.

“What?” they said.

“Ghastly,” continued Marvin, “it all is. Absolutely ghastly. Just don’t even talk about it. Look at this door,” he said, stepping through it. The irony circuits cut into his voice modulator as he mimicked the style of the sales brochure. “All the doors in this spaceship have a cheerful and sunny disposition. It is their pleasure to open for you, and their satisfaction to close again with the knowledge of a job well done.”

The Elwins should really consider a new career as doors.