« All Reviews

Elvis Depressedly

Hotter Sadness

[Orchid Tapes; 2012]

By ; October 25, 2012 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

For three years proper, Elvis Depressedly’s Mat Cothran has dripped blood across various projects in wildly differing incarnations, each effort tied together by an intensely evocative brand of lyricism and a downward cast gaze. From his debut as Coma Cinema, he’s illustrated a commitment to heartbreaking honesty and never letting songs stick around longer than their welcome. It’s the Guided By Voices approach to songwriting (get in, play the best parts, get out), but funneled through the potent emotionality of legendary downer singer-songwriters like Elliott Smith.

Across both his Coma Cinema and Elvis Depressedly monikers, Cothran has put forth bite sized portions of prickly bedroom pop. Needly mouthfuls of heartbreaking lyrics paired with pithy bursts of acoustic guitar (on his highest fidelity releases) or muddy organs (on Elvis Depressedly’s earliest material) hit you right in the empathy centers. Even here, on his latest effort–and most sparse–Cothran conjures infinitely depressing, but hugely relatable lines. “Bodil”’s “I’ve been awake/in this world/for too long” is on its surface a brutally slashed line in a high school diary, but as it squeaks out of Cothran’s mealy mouth, it sounds profound. No matter the words, Cothran sounds the epitome of sincerity.

And maybe that’s because he is. Cothran takes to Tumblr to malign his constant drunkenness, lack of funds, and broken equipment (the last of which should account for the marked fidelity drop between Hotter Sadness and July’s Mickey’s Dead), and such malcontentedness manifests itself in the lyrics of “Hurt Everything.” Cothran moans that “Sleep becomes a shelter from a memory half-dead,” and over floor-creaking acoustic arpeggios, it sounds less a cry for help and more a winking ‘You know what I mean?’. These are the lyrics your mom finds scrawled in your folder from back in junior high, yeah, but instead of emanating from the mellifluous throat of Elliott Smith, they’re cracked and garbled, accompanied by ghostly whinnies and the specter of a useless life looming slowly over your shoulder.

Cothran does it with such pithy insight too. With eight tracks spanning less than 15 minutes, Hotter Sadness is Cothran’s most taut example of a tight editing process. Only once letting a song breach the two minute mark, he encourages repeated listening, largely eschewing choruses for bitterly interwoven phrases. There’s no shortage of hooks or moving moments, but Cothran packs them all into this tight space, leading to an experience so rewarding it’s easy enough to let the record play three times in a row to compensate for its length.

Album closer “I Can’t Wait For You To Die” barely breaks a minute, spanning only two verses, but Cothran’s bitterness spews forth from the opening chords. With nothing else but tape crackle accompanying his insistent strum and blown out vocals, Cothran admonishes someone for “[running] away from [their] uselessness” and pointing out that “every night [they are] a wreck/just crying like a child.” Given his penchant for turning his bitter songwriting bullet upon himself (see Goner’s “Mickey Yr A Fuck Up”) it’s not too hard to imagine that Cothran’s admonitions are pointed squarely at his own temple. When the closing line of the album rolls around (the titular “I can’t wait for you to die”) it’s carried on a voice pushed to an absolute breaking point, ready to give out from the weight of a melody beyond its range and the intense emotional burden that it carries. Just over a minute after the start of the track, the trigger is pulled–the damage is done. Cothran’s self-loathing hits its breaking point and the incisiveness of 14 minutes of messy folk rock crammed with the lyrical flourishes of a floundering life reaches its point closest to home. And then you play it again.


Tags: , ,

blog comments powered by Disqus
Read about our scores and rating system here
Latest News and Media
Features More
Twitter icon_twitter Follow

Banquet Media