Elephant Stone Ship of Fools
Published Sep 16, 2016Elephant Stone are the crown jewels of Montreal psych-rock. The Polaris Prize nominees emerged around 2009, self-branded by frontman/bassist/sitarist Rishi Dhir as "Hindie rock," and have worked with Beck, the Black Angels and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. While their songs are occasionally graced by classical Indian tabla and sitar, Dhir's singing has a slightly nasal-but-pleasant quality similar to Elliott Smith or John Lennon that makes their music truly enticing.
Over the first half of Ship of Fools, it almost sounds like they've traded in their sitar-toting "Hindie rock" for guitar- and synth-based psychedelic rock in the same vein as Tame Impala, but with a darker, post-industrial vibe. The darkly distorted bass and angsty lyrics are balanced by the bright melodies and nostalgia now associated with the psych-pop genre palette; you could brood with headphones or dance at a big outdoor festival to this.
It's not until the sixth track, "Run, Sister, Run," that we're indulged with some wobbly tabla and twinkling sitar mixed more prominently. "Andromeda" also features tabla, and "The Devil's Shelter" boasts sitar and a guest vocal spot from Alex Maas of the Black Angels.
Upon first listen to the whole album, one might be relieved to "at least: find these instruments in the second half, but further listens reveal the sitar and tabla tucked away in mixes more fluidly, as in the disco-ish "Love Is Like a Spinning Wheel" and "Cast the First Stone." Elephant Stone haven't lost anything here; rather, they've refined their songwriting and production, and the results are quite exciting. (Elephants On Parade)