Music

Elva Brings Much Needed Light with Their 'Winter Sun'

Photo: Jørgen Nordby / Tapete Records

As Elva, Elizabeth Morris and Ola Innset's smart and poignant indie pop tackles big ideas with hopeful clarity on Winter Sun.

Winter Sun
Elva

Tapete

19 April 2019

If Allo Darlin's Elizabeth Morris needed to be rejuvenated after a few years off from that band, she seems to have found it. New group Elva, centered on Morris and her partner Ola Innset (of Making Marks and Sunturns), builds on the Allo Darlin indie pop formula, adding some rougher edges as needed while maintaining that pretty, melodic sensibility. Debut album Winter Sun gives the band a good start, finding Australian pop sounds (think Tender Trap or nearly anything at home on Matinee) to convey a series of thoughtful reflections, and, of course, the upside-down timing necessary to put out an album called Winter Sun in April.

The rejuvenation begins with opener "Athens", which awakens with a beat that manages to be both bouncy and pensive. Morris shrugs off her fatigue as she and another feel restoration among the "antiquity" in the Greek city. When they "dreamed of bigger things," Morris sings, "Something changed in me." That changes creates an awareness of something bigger, a fuller outlook to be realized. The pursuit continues on "Tailwind", a cut not without realism, but fully embracing "a deeper, higher meaning", a feeling emboldened by a harsher guitar cutting through the clouds.

Some of the sense of rebirth likely stems from literal birth. Morris and Innset recently had a daughter, and parenthood plays a role in at least "Ghost Writer", "Harbour in the Storm", and "Everything Is Strange". Elva consistently considers time; birth suggests aging, arrival suggests departure. The group frequently feels comfortable with these heavy feelings but never lets the emotion feel inconsequential. Innset acknowledges the vitality of parenthood: "In this time, in this place, with these people / I am needed and know just what to do." At the same time, the pair already know they'll be empty-nesters one day, and the contrast creates striking poignancy.

Morris captures the whole picture in "I Need Love", a classic pop number that slowly builds as she describes a series of wintry images around her. Among the fog and cold and rain, she can still sing, "I believe we're the lucky ones." It's this embrace of meaning and brightness that brings the sun to Elva's winter. The album closes with a heavy nod to the Rolling Stones' "As Time Goes By", pedal steel thinking through a fuller vision. Rather than hearing only rain, Elva looks through the gray to greater clarity.

While Morris, Innset, and bandmates pursue a singular vision, they do it through the flexibility of sound, changing tempos and colors to consistently build nuance in their songs. The group doesn't deviate far from their indie pop roots, but they know how to add touches like the guitar on "Airport Town" that give each song just what's needed. Winter Sun offers much-needed light with both skill and heart.

7


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Film

In Amy Seimetz's 'She Dies Tomorrow', Death Is Neither Delusion Nor Denial

Amy Seimetz's She Dies Tomorrow makes one wonder, is it possible for cinema to authentically convey a dream, or like death, is it something beyond our control?

Music

The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.

Books

John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.

Music

Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.

Music

Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.

Books

Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.

Music

Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.

Film

Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.

Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Music

The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Music

Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.

Music

​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.