Garden of Elks - A Distorted Sigh

A Distorted Sigh is saturated with feelings that popped up in an earlier age; rewind 25 years and this would have been seen as a classic Generation X record.

(Song, By Toad)

Sometimes I wonder what the point is in trying to codify or gauge music through reviews. Is it a list-ticking exercise that makes the reviewer feel better about the state of things? The sort of feeling that can be encapsulated thus: "I may have no control in my own life but I can certainly spot when someone's nicking the guitar lines from the Bunnymen's Heaven up Here." That kind of thing.

 

Maybe there's a (very modern) perception of time is at fault here. Obsessed with looking back, whilst simultaneously ignoring the immediate past, many seem to have lost our notion of what constitutes the present. Certainly reviewers. So when Garden of Elks turn up having made a record that could have been made from another time, I'm initially suspicious. But then, what is "nowadays", especially in the underground or independent music scene? Who, or what is the "right reaction"?

 

Maybe it can all go hang. Because this a great example of a fun, inconsequential, irreverent and irrelevant record. And I mean that in the nicest, most positive sense that I can summon. A Distorted Sigh is saturated with feelings that popped up in an earlier age; rewind 25 years and this would have been seen as a classic Generation X record. There are bits that look to all sorts of bands round 91, Blast First bands, Mudhoney, Mercury Rev, American Music Club... all there. Even bits of Ramones and The Fall (Yoop is a car crash of Rowche Rumble and Couldn't Get Ahead, M'Lud, dressed up in a plaid shirt).

 

So we get the cod-American drawling, ADHD patter of the drumming, the frazzled "I hung out with Gibby Haines" psychedelic flourishes, the grumbly, gritty smears of guitar (applied like peanut butter over the rhythm section in Swap). The dry guitar and appropriation of Kim Gordon's laconic delivery in Contented Contester is another case in point. But it's still great. And if you don't see what fun Invisible People Are Their Own Reflection in the Water is then I suggest you take up needlepoint.

 

I still have my doubts about my own role in reviewing this LP. So let's leave the last word to Garden of Elks, who sing "nothing to prove or say" on Wing. Maybe they're right.