There are just some bands that really take you back to a time and place whenever you hear them. Yes, I am going to sound like an old codger when I say this but one listen to the brand new Elephant Gun album and I was transported back to my uni days. Back to a very well spent youth that saw me in live music venues every Friday and Saturday night eager to hear bands like Magic Dirt, The Mark Of Cain and Spiderbait plying their wares. And while Elephant Gun perhaps never reached the lofty heights of the others they were certainly a favourite with the other reprobates that I called friends during my tertiary education.
Flash forward 20 years and Elephant Gun have just dropped a brand new album… an album that thankfully doesn’t change too much from what they were doing two decades ago… and an album I should say that is one of the best damn alternative rock albums you will hear this year.
So many of the bands that I listened to back then have returned over the years and many have made one simple mistake – they try so hard to be ‘new’ that they forget the sound that made people fall in love with them so many years before. Luckily, Elephant Gun haven’t made that mistake. Take one listen to the opening track on Now To Survive, the terrific “Kill Street Blues”, and you straight away hear a familiar alternative rock sound that takes you back to those late 90s live venues in St Kilda and Fitzroy.
If anything has changed it is the fact that Elephant Gun have musically become more mature and seem to be a little bit braver with some of the choices they make. From the haunting opening of “Devil On The Dawn” through to the smooth hard rock sound of “Handspan” there is a feeling though that this is a band that have found their sound and want to share it with the fans that have missed them so much.
The catchiness of tracks like “Surrounded” and “Titanic” certainly doesn’t take anything away from the rawness of Elephant Gun… in fact the band sounds heavier and harder than ever. Then there are “Mexicana,” “Caesar” and “In The Light” that are so raw that you would swear that they were recorded live.
There are two gems on this album though that make the record something really special. First off there is the sensational “She” that showcases the amazing guitar work of Michael Barrett and Todd Angus while Angus’ vocals seem to take the song to a whole new level. Then there is the amazing guitar-driven “In Hell” that shows that there is still a place for old school alternative rock in 2020.
Now To Survive isn’t a band trying to re-live their glory days, this is an album that show that Elephant Gun are just as relevant today than they ever were. This is a stunning album that shows for this band the best may still be yet to come.