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Album Review: EL VY – Return to the Moon

EL VY, the new project from Matt Berninger (The National) and Brent Knopf (Ramona Falls, Menomena) recently released their debut album, Return to the Moon. The album is a welcome surprise. We see a funnier and lighter side of Berninger than we have seen before with The National.  Some of the lyrics are still a bit dark but more so snarky than downright depressing. Knopf did an amazing job at a loungey, almost 70’s vibe backing Berninger’s smoldering voice. The arrangement of haunting background vocals, harpsi and power chords, and dirty organs work in a great way that would normally not on a modern album. 

A number of the songs on the album reference Berninger’s hometown of Cincinnati, OH. In the title track, “Return to the Moon”, Cincinnati is referenced in the bridge, “Don’t make me wait for you at the corner of Eden Park…Don’t make me wait for you at the Serpentine Wall”. And again in, “I’m the Man to Be” – “I’m from fucking Delhi…Not fucking Over the Rhine”.

“Paul is Alive” makes me think that we are taking a glimpse into Berninger’s childhood, “Beatlemania made my mother think the way she does”.  He even mentions hanging outside of The Jockey Club – a past punk rock music venue in Newport, KY that hosted the likes of Black Flag, The Ramones, and The Smiths. A “lyric” video for the song was directed by Berninger’s brother Tom, who made the The National Documentary Mistaken For Strangers. It’s not your typical lyric video though, as it shows the duo chilling in a backyard, swimming in the ocean, and hanging nervously backstage at a venue.

Return to the Moon is an album I can not stop listening to. Every time I listen, I find another nook and cranny lyric that brings me either to tears or laughter. I’m already looking forward to more from EL VY, perhaps even a show in Cincinnati? 



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