Taking a cue from fellow alternative pop bands like Everclear, Unwritten Law beefs up its production and plays with its trademark sound on Elva. The band is moving farther away from the anemic punk rock that made it a critical bull's-eye in the '90s, and the newer pop direction fits Unwritten Law's abilities perfectly. The only real issue with the album is the generic way the band approaches most of the rock songs. Slower, more weighty songs like "Seein' Red" get the maximum treatment because of their knack for building to a strong chorus. But the rockers tend to start with all guns blazing, just to fizzle out after a few verses. There are obvious exceptions, especially the excellent "Mean Girl," which packs a powerful punch around the chorus, and "Nick & Phil" stays interesting due to the raging vocals contrasting with the syrupy background vocals. But then there are songs like "Rescue Me," which does not maintain energy because of the overly smooth chorus that follows the Jawbox-esque verses. Still, to see Unwritten Law attempting new things is always comforting, especially when the band is good at them. From the reggae-tinged "How You Feel" to the Soul Asylum country-rock of "Rest of My Life," there is a lot here that branches out from the group's previous sound, and it is this variety and catchiness that makes this a recommendation for fans of alternative pop bands.
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AllMusic Review by Bradley Torreano