Isn’t it fun to have your heart wrenched? Every intense note and word of the Elementals’ second album, “Mother Nature and Her Bipolar Tendencies”, plows into your chest with mighty aplomb. With heaps of shifting time signatures, tuneful arpeggiated wonderfulness, and drums that punch like Tyson, this seven-track beast is the result of an incredible amount of elbow grease and passion. These guys weave in and out of each others’ space with incredible prowess: the result is a wonderful six-sensed statement of fury and confusion, where both melodies and lyrics are reminiscent of a bad break-up with reality.
There is something to be said about honesty and passion. Relevant rock music seems to spin on the idea of these two characteristics merging into a unique whole, and the bands that transcend our sense of good into a sense of greatness are the ones that excite us the most. The Elementals feel like such a band. I have a hard time finding a wrong-headed turn in the music they have written and recorded here, as every word and note seems to be infused with a desire to transcend.
The track “Beautiful Day”, for example, has the most uplifting chord progression throughout, but the lyrics are a naked expression of the helplessness one feels at the push and pull toward happiness. Singer/guitarist Cody Smith quietly contemplates his own mortality at the beginning before moving into a tuneful scream (one that absolutely must be heard to be truly appreciated; this cat’s got pipes and then some) about the way even the simple act of feeling the sun on your skin can evoke hope. The powerful delivery pulls through the song and outlines how pathos is lying in wait at each happy moment.
This same adventurousness stands out in the closing track, “Adieu”, which is a musical wondercoaster. A cross between post-rock pioneers Slint, ‘A Day in the Life” and ‘Good Vibrations’, this one contains several movements which are connected in ways that surprised even this jaded listener. The sheets of sound that break the song at the 3:30 mark had me tickled with excitement, and perfectly mesh with its status as a kiss-off song for overthinkers — a brainiac break-up song, if you will.
The Elementals demonstrate this kind of versatility throughout, moving into country-inflected chord progressions in ‘24’ and into dirt mud blues in ‘The Feeding Hour’, all while maintaining intensity, punch, and surprise injections of emotionally naked rock. The rhythm section deserves kudos for bringing such bravado and groove to the proceedings; the shared chemistry of these artists is on full display throughout the album, and would be enough to justify the price of admission alone. It is Smith’s voice, however, that puts matters into the territory of pretty darn unforgettable.
Mother Nature and Her Bipolar Tendencies is stirring, moving, honest and passionate, driven and intense; it’s about gazing up while feeling down, and has a really cute picture of a dog. Really, how can you go wrong with ingredients like that? Suffice to say that I really, really enjoyed this album. If you’re looking for something new that’ll pull at your emotions in new and liberating ways, I think you’ll enjoy it too.