Vulnerable writing doesn’t need to be quiet and, in Elementals case, it often needs to be doused in feedback.
By Owen Maxwell
As the band takes huge leaps sonically and writing-wise from their previous efforts, they produce a record that will surely find them taking more risks going forward.
Elementals step up as a band is immediately prevalent in the roar of their opening track “Medicine”, as their grungy overtones move beyond simple hard rock. Taking epic notes from Muse, chords from Soundgarden and the frantic energy of Bloc Party, the band makes their rock something more layered and directional than ever before.
This ability to sweep through so many moods with the same tension makes each song feel truly a part of their unique world. Elementals interpret this raw emotion on the off-kilter syncopation of “Augusta”, as each shrieking hook is guided by their steady rhythm section. The unhinged playing never feels overdone however, with each burst of feedback and distortion serving the emotion they’re building at any given moment.
Cody Smith’s wailing vocals emulate Kurt Cobain tastefully throughout the record but most crisply on “Angel Static.” The burnt out dynamics of the song fit the lyrics perfectly, as Smith sings from a tired but yearning place. Even among the more funk-infused grooves the band lays down throughout the track, each verse presents a calm-before-the-storm dynamic that makes each explosive chorus feel all the more satisfying.
Elementals subvert this expectation cleverly on “Beautiful Day”, even dropping out all their instrumentation for a sneaky verse break rather than a booming guitar drop. The utterly broken emotion behind the lyrics ramp up the tension however, and when the song finally does break into its fiery moments, it doesn’t ease up on its pained message.
They do however showcase some of their most contrasting writing here, layering glossy harmonies and bright riffs amongst their final wall of guitars and ringing drums.
The band never refrains from going further with their sonic exploration, whether it’s letting their riffs spiral off into stories of their own or creating atmosphere for a ambivalent goodbye. “24” tells the most cheeky story on the whole record as well, using the bittersweet sound-bed at the start of the song to give it all a casual feeling. While the song is perhaps even more pop-centric than Frank Turner’s hits, they also match his accessible and memorable narratives, leaving the song one of the most memorable of the record.
Long before the haunting lyrics of “The Feeding Hour” set up a smoky danger, there’s a sense of place the band crafts in their subdued sound-work that lays it out for you. Amongst the rush of guitars throughout the album, it’s Elementals’ constant ability to make the most of their quiet sections that truly defines the album. “Adieu” taps into this sensibility with their most tender and lighthearted sides, fine-tuning their emotional writing into a rare love song for the band. Their constant sonic detours keep the album refreshing as well, like when they spiral off into a wondrous effects break in the album’s final moments.
Sticking to a shorter album keeps Mother Nature and Her Bipolar Tendencies consistent, as its grungy moments always work and its pop-fueled diversions are tight but refreshing. The album’s rare samey moments never feel like a real detriment, as the band end up surprising anyone looking for patterns. With their dense production and fearless sense of writing, Elementals manage to avoid any dull moments on this strong step forward.
* Visit the Elementals bandcamp and check for their past releases.