Creeping onto 12” vinyl is the rich and palatial debut EP from Elder Island. Comprised of honest female vocals, cello, guitar and sparing samples, their less-is-more approach is very much to their credit.
Opening tentatively with the dialogue-laden ‘Today Is Your Day’, things could be off to a plunderphonic start. While such vintage delvings are somewhat over-utilised, losing clout to those craving instant depth like so much forgotten Nescafé, Elder Island pull it off with a satisfying DJ Shadow-esque nochelence.
Clicking and clapping their way into lead track ‘What It’s Worth’, it’s time to meet Elder Island at their best. Defiantly sparse and built on a foundation of handmade percussion, Katy Sargent’s rhythm and blues vocal treads the line between slavesong and rich, trembling pop. Stepping off into the ethereal, conversely tight, patterned lines lead us into a cracking finale.
Although somewhat soulful, it’s those off-piste vocal rhythms that truly excite on this release. Switching from one mode to the other at a moment’s notice, legato is replaced with clicky chants and syllabic tangents.
Closing with the well-paced 80s tones of ‘Big Unknown’, we’re reminded that for all its atmosphere, ‘Elder Island’ is an ultimately feel-good debut. Cracking through the clouds, it’s a bittersweet summer of swelling pop for me.