In the music industry, relying on the intangibility of an up and coming band's potential can prove an extremely risky endeavor. While there are surely a great deal of bands that arguably reach "their" initial promise, the vast majority of them get lost in a sea of insurmountable expectation. And yet, in preoccupying themselves with what a band could accomplish in the future, those in the industry tend to overlook the quality of a product that already exists. To this end, I could waste ample time telling listeners about the incredible promise Australia's acoustic/indie pop duo Ellington possess for future releases. Be that as it may (and it is most certainly the case) I'd like to focus on what has already been accomplished thus far - More Like a Movie, Less Like Real Life - one of this year's best EPs.
The six song collection corralling the efforts of well respected producer Matt Malpass (Copeland, Lydia) the vocal styling of Matthew Thiessen (Relient K),Jeff Turner (Say Anything) and Leighton Antelman (Lydia) is a heartwarming effort blending catchy acoustic indie - pop and shimmering ambience. While it's amazing to witness what a little help from some friends can provide, it in no way diminishes the fantastic work of the record's primary proprietors - Jake Bosci and Michael Beatson. Not only does the release show significant strides from 2007's The Joy We Keep In, it is a far more intricate and layered sampling than what many fans would expect with the over-simplistic indie-pop characterization.
Though quite similar in overall structure, each track on the release is executed exceptionally well, providing listeners with variations of Jake Bosci's breathy, yet effective vocals accompanied by slight traces of piano, electronic drum samples, and atmospheric guitar play. Sound wise, think Rookie of the Year meets Lydia meets JamisonParker.
"Between Faith and the City Lights," the EPs opener, serves up not only a great synopsis of what to expect from the rest of the release both sonically and thematically, but easily the EPs catchiest sampling. The song carries the pop sensibility of a Rookie of the Year song, while adding much more depth with distant alluring guitars and keys throughout. Here, while never straining far from a whisper, Bosci's delicate delivery shines with an undeniable sense of optimism; something characteristic of much of the EP. Like many of the tracks on More Like a Movie, "Love" starts off relatively slow with midtempo drums and simple acoustic strums, but then builds into a much more fulfilling pallet of sound with prominent electric guitar and driving drums. More so than anywhere else on the disc, the JamisonParker vibe seems evident.
"Radiate" serves as the album's highlight, taking relatively stripped down verses and building into a huge chorus and bridge:
"I know you know you're a gorgeous girl and you don't need me to tell you that but I'll do what I can
until you finally crack a smile/We finally spent the summer waiting for the sunset, watching it together/This is as good as love gets when im by your side!"
While "In a Lonely Place" suffers lyrically, the addition of Matt Thiessen's vocals are a fantastic touch. It's actually quite a shame that the interplay between Thiessen and Bosci didn't continue past his initial entrance. "The World Through Weary Eyes" is an effective closer, featuring a wonderful piano melody, dream-like chorus, and down-right fantastic ambient build in the bridge. Consistent with much of the release, the song soars post bridge, but descends back down to a somber conclusion with the help of Lydia's Leighton Antelman's vocals and soft strums of the acoustic.
If any issue is to be taken with More Like a Movie, its that the constant boy-girl theme throughout may tire on listeners looking for a more diverse offering. To this degree, what truly remains to be seen is if the band can offer up enough diversity both in lyrical content and in sound to sustain listeners with a full length release. Regardless, Ellington is the surprise band I've patiently waited for in 2008 and More Like a Movie, Less Like Real Life is a perfect autumn album brimming with optimism and introspection.