Is Matt Berninger the hardest working man in music? Quite possibly. Following a punishing 19 month touring schedule with The National promoting Trouble Will Find Me, he’s now back with Brent Knopf of Menomena/Ramona Falls. Under the guise of EL VY, Berninger’s drawl is instantly recognisable, a voice so synonymous with exquisite songwriting.
Whereas Knopf was one of the driving forces behind the incredible sound of Menomena and now the astounding Ramona Falls. There’s a high level of expectation instantly placed upon such a record, but any fears are immediately dispelled. Title track and opener ‘Return To The Moon’ is an instant hit with its anthemic chorus that instantly sticks in your head. With the album continuing in a very similar vein, it’s laden with incessant hooks that have you humming for days. Knopf’s influence shines through; from the upbeat to the sombre tones of ‘Paul is Alive’ these melodies perfectly accompany Berninger’s words.
According to Berninger his lyrics are more autobiographical on this record, yet they’re based on characters as opposed to the truth. ‘I’m The Man To Be’ sees him at his absolute best, his wonderful storytelling shining through as he describes himself as the perfect lothario. As the beats swagger to match his confident vocals, there’s a truly sultry feel to his sinister tale. This sinister sound is one that recurs throughout the album, particularly in ‘Sad Case’. However, this is what we’ve become accustomed to hearing from Berninger, yet this seems to be where Knopf comes into his own with his incredibly dark and dense orchestrations. This harsh vibe continuing into the incendiary ‘Happiness, Missouri’, these barrages of noise are incessant and brilliant.
Return To The Moon is an incredible album by two modern greats of the musical world, Berninger's storytelling and dry humour is nothing short of masterful. Yet Knopf’s orchestrations equal if not better the lyrics, the dense layers of instrumentation packed with subtle nuances and choral interjections are exquisite making this album infinitely better. Whilst this may only be a musical project not a side project or a replacement, it is easily on par with their other guises. We sincerely hope that this is not the last that we hear of this exceptional partnership.
Return To The Moon is available via Amazon & iTunes.