Elvis Perkins In Dearland- Elvis Perkins In Dearland
I wish that my first experience with Elvis Perkins in Dearland had been cooler; that I would have come across his album in funky vinyl shop and listened to the opening notes of “Shampoo” with the decades of musical genius surrounding us. As it was, I stumbled across his name while reading an article in a trusted music source (whose initials are not RS) and I listened to those first notes via iTunes surrounded only by leftover dishes from dinner. It was not at all the environment that this level of artistry deserved and yet I was sold on what Perkins was pushing without any questions, or hip ambiance in this case.
Perkins, the son of the late Anthony Perkins of Psycho movie fame, began his career with a lovely solo album released in 07. The album garnered some critical acclaim and set him on the path toward this self titled album with his newly formed band Elvis Perkins in Dearland. The sound created by Perkins and his band is difficult to put in words because it is such an experience: a merging of genres, decades, influences and sounds. What emerges is arguably the most complete album of the year.
As I have previously stated, I am an album person. I want an artist to tell an entire story with an album and fully stir in me whatever emotion they are trying to express with every single track. Perkins overwhelmingly accomplishes that by being diligent in his effort to stay true to the goal he lays out in the first note of the first track. And I applaud the order in which the tracks are placed; they are so exquisitely chosen as to never take you too deep into a dark place without bringing you up for a breath of air.
This album is defined by two things: the mood and Perkins’ voice, and neither one would work as well without the other. Perkins’ sound is a mixture of equal parts Bob Dylan and Buddy Holly, and depending upon the song he can sound more like one than the other. “Hours Last Stand” gives off the Buddy Holly vibe and “How’s Forever Been Baby” sounds like a 1970s Dylan, but despite the similarities to these musical legends neither performance comes off as contrived.
This album is for those with imagination. The mystery, darkness, whimsy and humor of this 45 minute album remind me of the tales of gypsies from classic literature. The sound is almost other-worldly. At times it seems wild and unpredictable and at other times it is sweet and heartbreaking. The use of brass, horns and the occasional flute makes this album, which could come off as a replica of decades passed, seem fresh and completely unique.
In interviews, Perkins can come off aloof and maybe even a bit pretentious, but then again I think that can be said of most musicians. In the end, I’m not really concerned with how the guy is when he’s out from behind the microphone, because what he does on this album, and hopefully live, is pure quality. I’ve purchased tickets for the November show in Atlanta and the wait may kill me if the excitement doesn’t first.
Listen: Hours Last Stand
(Download is safe, I promise.)