Athens, Georgia's DayGlo indie psych collective Elf Power started sculpting their melted-crayon lo-fi pop in the mid-'90s, eventually crafting over ten albums' worth of their often twisted but sweetly sunny songs. Sunlight on the Moon finds Elf Power's principal songwriter Andrew Rieger and longtime creative partner Laura Carter collaborating with players who've done time in Of Montreal, Great Lakes, and other bands in the pop-friendly Athens-based Elephant 6 collective. The album's fidelity is not too far removed from the bedroom recordings of the band's earliest days, with recording being split between several Georgian studios and Rieger's bedroom. Several tunes also hark back to the group's early songwriting approach of Rieger spontaneously constructing the backbones of the tunes as he recorded each individual instrument part, fleshing out lyrics and arrangements with the band as they went on. "Lift the Shell" and the bright key changes of "Total Annihilation" have the same scrappy, partially improvised feel as the Elf Power records of the late '90s, and Rieger's regal vocals and drifty harmonies bear similarities to fellow lo-fi hero Bob Pollard, of Guided by Voices fame. Tracks like "Grotesquely Born Anew" employ exceptionally clean drum machine beats, their electronic textures standing out amid the warmer home-recorded elements. The album is more of a return to roots for Elf Power than a major shift in direction. The sunbathed harmonies and tinny, phased-out guitar leads of "Things Lost" are pure throwbacks to the earliest Elephant 6 days, drenched in the paisley pop, small-town energy and youthful spirit of creativity that gave birth to the bands in their genus. While Sunlight on the Moon is a return to earlier inspirations, it's by no means a step backwards. Rieger's songs, more refined and subtle as the years have gone on, have a sense of rejuvenated inspiration to them. The extra flair of random trumpets, strange tape experimentation, and walls of fuzz bass contributed by the rest of the band just add to the colorful wash of sound, up there with the best Elf Power compositions of the past.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas