NY indie pop-punk darlings Elephant Jake return with the release of their latest EP “Looking Good Feeling Good” and they do not disappoint. Having been fortunate enough to have caught an EJ concert with a friend at the now-defunct Soda Bar in Philadelphia, PA in early 2020, I was familiar with the group’s inspired, but never cliched sound, but even I couldn’t have been prepared for what they have in store for us with this latest release.
“Shipment Only Knifing“, a previously released single and live staple, kicks off the EP with all-around strong musicianship, catchy hooks from vocalist/guitarist Sal Fratto, and compelling lyrics. Perhaps it’s the subtly jarring drum fill that gives way to the sustained lead guitar lines that color the bridge of the song, but this is a new, adventurous sound for EJ. The outro solo from guitarist Colin Harrison over drummer Andrew Demarest’s passionate syncopated rhythms is a definite highlight. I often find myself tapping along to the rhythm in my subconscious thoughts.
Elephant Jake have always had a great ear for captivating melodies and “Looking Good” is no exception. With a strong driving pulse, provided by Andrew’s drum prowess and Kyle Mabee’s solid bass-work, the song propels us through the narrator’s struggles to make it as an artist while the world around him tries to tear him down. The unexpected, yet absolutely beautiful piano interlude takes us through the rest of the song. As the interlude builds up, we’re quietly questioned “Is it worth it?” until we are met with the resounding gang-vocal response “I can’t answer that for you / you’ve gotta take the time to find those answers for yourself”. It’s impossible not to get chills from the sheer power of this moment and it is most certainly a high point in EJ’s already stellar discography.
“The Time I Brought You Soup” is a trip of a song if I’ve ever heard one. The journey begins with a warm fingerpicked guitar riff that builds up to a lively, almost jam band feel, then abruptly detours halfway through the track to a minimalist drum beat with psychedelic guitars washing over the soundscape, before ultimately returning to the friendly jam band chorus from before. It’s a journey quite unlike anything I’ve heard before; like a fine soup, it rewards you with different sensations and enriching feelings with each coming spoonful. I definitely like it, but it also leads me to wonder, just what kind of soup is this??
“Feeling Good” as a song is mellower than EJ’s usual output, but in turn provides a sentimental closer to the EP. Whereas many of their usual songs are energetic and always have something going on at any given moment, this track features more dynamics and provides room to breathe in verses, then bursts to life in its grungy choruses. While this personally tends to be my least listened track on the EP, it’s still nonetheless an enjoyable experience that’s far from a detraction of the overall listening. It provides a very chill outro to a fantastically strong EP.
“Looking Good Feeling Good” is a more than solid addition to the Elephant Jake discography and I eagerly await the day when I can see them live again in a cramped, decrepit basement and yell “40 hours at the factory!” at the top of my lungs along with my friends.
You can find Elephant Jake at https://elephantjake.bandcamp.com/