The Essex Green

Hardly Electronic

Merge

Jul 31, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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You could call it a comebackafter a 12-year hiatus, Brooklyn-based pop auteurs The Essex Green have jumped back on the scene. But hop into Hardly Electronic, and you'll doubt they ever left; the trio's new album hums with unblemished cuts of '60s and '70s radio gold, just as you'd expect from former consorts of Athens' Elephant 6 collective. From the sweet power pop of "The 710," to the silly country ramble of "Bye Bye Crow," to the Mamas and Papas-esque sunshine of "January Says" the Essex crew flex from form to form like working professionals.

But don't mistake Hardly Electronic for a carefree nostalgia trip. Sasha Bell and Jeff Baron sing about maturing in the modern age, and how social circles shift with time and technology. Two of the album's most precious ballads, "In the Key of Me" and "Slanted by Six," both reminisce about escapades past through dialogues with the present, like when Bell laments, "you're no fun since you had a baby." Meanwhile, "Don't Leave It in Our Hands" sends a sneaky call-to-arms for younger generations to fight their own battles, with an edgy bassline that almost evokes Bloc Party. And in the hushed closer  "Bristol Sky," Baron taps the common conundrum of social media square on the head: "it's strange to feel lonely when you're right next to me."

Sure, Hardly Electronic might conjure vivid daydreams of days gone by. But The Essex Green direct their flawless studies in pop to disconnected friends in the 21st century; even after 12 years, they haven't slept a wink. (www.essexgreen.com)

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