Luna Amante

Written by: TL on 12/04/2014 18:08:08

When "Luna Amante", the debut full length of Oregon sextet Elenora, opens, it does so with the echoing, dramatic boom of something that sounds like a cinematic war drum from a Chinese epic, and the threatening strings that build it towards the first track proper set the tone of the band's ambition clearly. These guys want to be theatrical in a grand way, yet the break into the seductive RnB vocals of "Said The Sapling To The Sun" sets an immediately striking contrast that's so good that it will eventually get you over the fact that singer Alexander Prescott sounds sharp enough to pierce glass. Chiodos-ish classical piano chimes underneath him, alongside strings that sound borrowed from In Fear And Faith, and off we are then, into one stupidly catchy chorus metaphor about a tree and its anxious love of the sun.

On my first encounter with Elenora some two years ago, their EP "Avant-Garde" struck me as a potent sort of tip of the second layer of the post-hardcore scene; like the band just got where the genre was at and got the mix right. And "Said The Sapling To The Sun" is an opener that indicates that they've carried that sense about them onward in 2014: The verse is ambitious, the chorus is straight up catchy, and moving across its mid-section, the track seamlessly disintegrates into bursts of stupendously heavy parts that you wouldn't find out of place on an Issues or Alesana song - complete with a fashionable "BLERGH!" to show that the dudes are not too high and mighty to encourage a mosh pit. It shouldn't make sense considering that there's seemingly nothing ironic about their high strung melodic parts, and yet, somehow it just does.

Singing more softly in the opening of the following "Lost In The Sea (Intimacy), Pt. II", Prescott's efforts atop some blisteringly funky guitarwork betray that bands like Dance Gavin Dance and Hail The Sun likely hold strong positions among Elenora's influences, and while the singer himself comes off as a mix of Donovan Melero, Tilian Pearson and the oft-referenced Anthony Green, his guitarists Kurt Fields and Casey James show that they've probably listened to a bit of Closure In Moscow as they dish out busy melodies that are part funk, part prog. Drummer Nicholas Taylor doesn't spare the double-pedal either, as the song proves that Elenora can throw their weight around even when going for smooth and sensitive, but it's not really a highlight like the former song or the following "Simone", the brazen courtship lyrics of which are every bit as sassy as any of your garden variety, sexy Dance Gavin Dance tracks: "Take a dip in the river, don't shiver alone, I'll be your blanket and always keep you warm". Corny? Perhaps another "Blergh!" here would've been epic, but sadly, no dice.

Regretably, while the band keeps things lively in terms of style and dynamics as the album progresses, the strong hooks stay absent across a midsection that even a guest appearance from K.C. Simonsen (from kindred spirits Outline In Color) doesn't keep up to the early level. Fortunately "I'm Trevor Collins, And These Are My Real Teeth" has more of what I'm talking about with its lines about broken homes spliced in between sparkling guitar with an effect that's reminiscent of short-lived supergroup Isles & Glaciers. Prescott's vocals then become particularly Craig Owens-esque and childlike on the mellow "Words Unspoken", which breaks the pace nicely before the album's ending.

Here, "Hiraeth" in particular impresses with the dreamy singing surfing on cascading tremolo, unlikely to leave Circa Survive and Children Of Nova fans unaffected, before "A Snake Will Say It Loves You" finally sounds "Luna Amante" off. Standing back, I can't help but to snarkily remark that this is the record Chiodos should've made if they had wanted to stay artistically relevant in the scene anno 2014, and if I'm honest there are a handful of occasions where I'm leaning towards grading this half a mark higher. When eventually I don't, it's because that even though Elenora display that intangible stuff of a band that has it, they still need to iron out the odd, grating moments in the singing, while coming up with just three or four more of those highlight bits that makes you go "fuck yeah, that's what I'm talking about". That said, "Luna Amante" deserves a response to encourage the group to march on towards a follow-up, on which if they can come up with a few more songs like "Sapling" and "Simone", I'll be ready to say that they can then play with the big boys in the scene.

Download: Said The Sapling To The Sun; Simone; I'm Trevor Collins, And These Are My Real Teeth
For The Fans Of: Closure In Moscow, Dance Gavin Dance, Alesana, Icarus The Owl
Listen: facebook.com/elenoramusic

Release date 08.04.2014

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