Ernest Ellis is, like, crazy cool. Like, if you implanted the genes of Beck into a cool dude made up of body parts from Kurt Vile, Real Estate and Woods, you’d have the Frankenstein of Ernest Ellis. He’d be a fucking mess obviously-there’d be way too much hair in the way. The shaggy manes of Beck and Kurt Vile? Dream on, mate, try shoving a hot poker in your eyes, it’d be less blinding.
But our young protagonist sees his way around this (pun intended) by cutting those luscious locks. Now, he can see, and the things he sees make him sad. Instead of being a mopey loser and making Cure/Enrique Iglesias mashups like the rest of us mere mortals, the Sydney-sider has decided to use his scientific given talents. Harnessing the haunting majesty of ‘Sea Change’, Ernest Ellis adds just enough melancholy-pop that seems to be all the rage right now (see: King Krule, Bon Iver) to the mixture, and the end product is something that’ll be fondly remembered as ‘Cold Desire’.
There’s no doubt that ‘Cold Desire’ is a strong record. It pumps with an unusual energy, tapping into the cold winters that Sydney has never really had, the bitterness of a sour relationship, and a vain hopelessness that is completely genuine. There’s a lot of heartbreak on this album, and the way it churns up your stomach into a thousand pieces, like a cement truck of melancholy, is something that voices don’t tend to do all that often anymore.
Seriously though, the strength of the songs that Ernest Ellis have the craftsmanship and care of fucking Gepetto. Except they don’t waver around the bullshit alive-puppet phase, but head straight to real-boy territory right quick. Their full, fleshed-out realised ideas that link together through a daisy chain of being bummed out.
On, ‘Black Wire’, the most deadset gut-wrenching indie rock anthem since The Jesus & Mary Chain’s ‘Just Like Honey’, you feel as though you’ve just gone and punched Steve Irwin’s corpse and are dealing with the regret all in one four minute rush. The forehead-creasing anguish that roars quietly in ‘Black Wire’ are, at times, too much, and makes for the next perfect break-up song. When Mr. Ellis mourns, “There’s too much love, there’s too much love, Honey in my head” you want to reach into the song, give him a big hug, and scream, “DUDE, ME TOO! I FEEL YOU DAWG!”.
Although it doesn’t quite reach the same emotional connection and heart-breaking heights of ‘Black Wire’, the rest of the album remains to equally caress and create those hurt feelings. ‘Way Down’ and ‘Shine Like Me’ also hold a ghostly indie-rcok poignancy similar to that of Aussie comrades Pony Face or, for a more popular but less accurate example, Augie March. Not to say the other tracks don’t rain on the heart’s parade-all songs on ‘Cold Desire’ don’t just tug on the emotive strings, but aim to actively replace them with industrial steel replicants that are factory guaranteed to withstand the pressure of melting indie ballads.
For all those who thought it began and ended with Kurt Vile, or are disappointed with the new Beck album, this one’s for you. For those that haven’t been able to get over that breakup from seven years ago, this one’s for you. For those that really dig on indie rock that manages to be intriguing and utterly unpretentious, this one’s for you. For the rest, I hear there’s a new Korn album, or something.
To see me frothing over the new Ernest Ellis album in the flesh, head to Red Eye Records this Friday for a free in-store performance around 5.