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Mood Elevator - Long Hard Look

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 5 / 12 / 2003

Mood Elevator - Long Hard Look
Label: Laughing Outlaw
Format: CDS


"Glorious" melodic power pop from Michiganduo Mood Elevator, back with their first new material since 1999, and one half of whom is acclaimed solo artist Brendan Benson

If you’re one of the lucky ones who picked up on and enjoyed the two albums Brendan Benson has released then, boy, are you in for a treat here. Benson’s first album, ‘One Mississippi’ from 1996 initially caught my eye as around half the tracks were co-written with Jason Falkner ( a personal favourite of mine from his Jellyfish days) but it wasn’t long before I realised that I would have fallen for Benson’s brand of melodic power pop eventually anyway even without the help of the talented Jason Falkner. By the time of 2002’s ‘Lapalco’ (again with around half the songs co-writes with Falkner) there was no turning back; Benson really arrived with that album; it received praise from all reviewers and a follow-up was eagerly awaited. By this time Benson had teamed up with his old high school buddy Chris Plum and together with some other old school chums they produced the debut album by Mood Elevator, ‘Listen Up!’ The band also backed Benson on ‘Lapalco’. It now seems that Benson is a fully fledged member of Mood Elevator and this EP is the first release by the group since 1999. And damn good it is too. Chris Plum had a hand in writing all four of the tracks (two on his own and two co-writes with Benson and bassist Eric Pott) and they match the high standard we have come to expect from any record with Benson’s name on it. In fact, I’d have to say that the second track on this EP, ‘Boycott’, is an even better song than some of those on ‘Lapalco’. Like the opening song, ‘Long Hard Look’, which is not the best song of the four, it’s a hard guitar driven slab of power pop with a guitar hook so catchy it takes only one play to register. But the third track, ‘Samantha’, is a real find. Starting off with strummed acoustic guitars it immediately reminds one of those classic 60's summer songs which always had a girl’s name in them and usually dealt with unrequited love. There are touches of the Who (circa ‘ Sell Out’) and The Hollies (circa ‘Butterfly’) in there and it’s mildly psychedelic. It’s also one of the best songs I’ve heard all year and a crime that it’s tucked away as track three on this EP! But then the same could be said about the final song, ‘Holiday’. With its gorgeous harmonies it again recalls the 60's while still sounding contemporary and is another diversion from the harder power pop sound of the first two songs. Maybe the best thing is that the good folks at Laughing Outlaw are releasing a new Mood Elevator album in January so we are going to be treated to more of this glorious pop music these guys are producing. In my humble opinion the latter two songs on this EP are the best, although depending on my mood ‘Boycott’ is sometimes the favourite, and for some reason those two are not going to be on the album so the only way to get them is to buy this EP. So if Benson’s solo albums or power pop in general are your thing then shell out for the EP, you won’t regret it. I’ve played this EP at least once a day since I got hold of it. It never fails to lift my mood even after the worst day at work and if Laughing Outlaw released these songs as a taster to entice us to buy the forthcoming Mood Elevator album then it worked ; I’ll be first in the queue.

Track Listing:-
1 Long Hard Look
2 Boycott (Radio Edit)
3 Samantha
4 Holiday

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Married Alive (2003)
Excellent melodic pop from Michigan duo Mood Elevator, one half of whom is acclaimed power pop hero Brendan Benson

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