Amelia Rivas and Christian Pinchbeck, by their powers combined Elephant, must be tempted to stick pins in dolls of Cults every night. Both bands had their first tracks emerge into an eager blogosphere at about the same time, both bearing a haunted expression and intrinsic intrigue. However while Madelin and Brian have headed off into throbbing alt-pop, friends in high places and advertising sync0s, Elephant have stayed in the shadows, prodding and pulling apart the hazy, minimal tone of that first single ‘Ants’ and pushing forward the dreampop synth blurs into something less abstract. More, dare we say it, Eighties-like.
Partly as a result, the title track sounds like a combination of two other boy-girl (vaguely) retro-futurist facing duos. While Rivas’ sighing vocal expresses hope while there seems to be none the keyboard sets off on imagined sunlit highways that might well turn off at the next junction into Summer Camp’s Condale. Equally though the combination sets itself up as a less backlit cousin of Beach House’s gauziness, especially when Rivas changes tone into smokier climes towards the end. Like the best of both those duos, repeated listening draws out further detail, enveloping further into the centre of a quietly propulsive matrix.
The other three tracks on the EP reflect and retract that style to lesser effect. The coolly delivered vibrato of ‘Shipwrecked’ is laid up by a beat that seems to drag behind where Rivas’ insistent vocal is trying to lead it. Apart from the lack of that unsubtly bludgeoning beat and Rivas near her most glacial ‘Hopeless’ does little to differentiate itself from a thousand post-La Roux bedroom synth-pop contenders, while ‘Twilight’ ends at Mazzy Star pace and flirts with Zola Jesus territory without finding the magic end ingredient that would justify the nerve-janglingly slo-mo means. Still, for that lead track’s mixture of defiance and layered synth blurring alone anticipation for next year’s debut album is coming along nicely.