7/17/08: Earlimart

Hymn And Her
Shout! Factory Records
Release date: July 1, 2008
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Sounds like: Introspective indie pop with a moody bent; a slightly happier Elliot Smith teaming up with a downbeat Yo La Tengo

Earlimart returns one short year after its last celebrated album Mentor Tormentor with another batch of moody pop reflections. Stripped down to the duo of Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray, these pillars of the L.A. underground maintain a fairly straightforward pop-rock line while drawing heavily from the overstocked well of Elliot Smith inspiration. The breezy “Face Down” relies on melancholy pianos and sad horns to make its case, while “For The Birds” combines tortured, breathy vocals with jangly drum hits and morose organs. Espinoza conjures up the ghost of Elliot Smith on “God Loves You The Best” and “Cigarettes & Kerosene,” not only cribbing the late master’s vocal delivery but also adding washes of strings and plunky pianos reminiscent of his symphonic arrangements. Earlimart surprisingly dabbles in danceable material on the midtempo “Teeth,” but returns to meditative form again on the churning title track and the drenched-in-sadness closer “Tell Me.” But don’t let the album’s title fool you: Ariana Murray’s sugary pipes turn up only sparingly, instead ceding the upper hand in this vocal lover’s duel to Espinoza’s fractured lyrics. Hymn And Her is the perfect soundtrack for any introvert who loves overcast skies and downhearted yet hesitatingly hopeful pop tunes.

Official band site: www.earlimartmusic.com
Myspace: www.myspace.com/earlimart
Label: www.shoutfactory.com/browse/146/earlimart.aspx
“Song For” mp3

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