Plug in

I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to Elephant Stone's last album when it came out. But as soon as I started listening to the songs on my short-lived radio station, I came to really love the album. Last August, I saw Rishi Dhir and the boys tear down the Black Cat with their interpretation of 60s-ish psychedlics, and I was stoked to grab the new album.

And it didn't do much for me. The songs seemed so ordinary compared to what had come before. But I wondered: Was this another album that needed a few listens to find its way into my head?

The answer is a qualified yes. What's more key, however, is the use of headphones.

Elephant Stone
The Three Poisons

This album sounds pedestrian coming out of my Big Jambox. Which is a little strange, because the last album sounds great that way. But while I was pretty meh about the stuff when hearing the tracks in the open, the subtleties of the production just pop through the phones.

It's also possible that I was not listening loud enough (a one-year-old crawling around does limit the sonic trembling of our household), but still, I'm struck by the difference. What originally sounded like nice, inoffensive 60s-esque pop songs have a whole new edge when heard up close.

Thinking a bit more about this conundrum, I realized that the production and mix are not the only subtleties here. Dhir is incorporating his influences much more confidently here, and so there is less obvious aping and more of an organic Elephant Stone sound. The drums sound electronic much of the time, and I think the percussion is programmed on some of the tracks. That nod to modern thinking strips a bit of bombast from the songs, but it also brings some of these tracks more into a New Order sphere. Well, if New Order were to venture into sitar-driven 60s psychedelia, that is.

But nonetheless, that feel is there right next to plenty of nods to the Beatles, the Zombies and such. I also hear a little Love-ish pop-rock-psych action, which is pretty cool.

So. Rather than really tear the ears off listeners, Dhir and the rest of Elephant Stone are evolving in a direction that will serve them well in the future. And if you're a fan having a bit of a difficult time warming up to this album, just pop on the headphones. Everything will be revealed.

Jon Worley

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