Say Hi

Um, Uh Oh

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Eric Elbogen is like the alternative-universe version of M. Ward, operating in a parallel reality where the indie singer/songwriter is too socially awkward to even say hello to ingénue Zooey Deschanel, much less start the mainstream-skirting She & Him with her, and ends up retreating further and further into himself to create his creaky-voiced, tuneful bursts of bedsitter pop as a one-man band. Multi-instrumental songsmith Elbogen has been making music under the Say Hi banner since 2002, having shortened it from the rather more adolescent-sounding Say Hi to Your Mom in 2008. He continues to be the master of his own musical fiefdom on Um, Uh Oh, handling all the vocal and instrumental heavy lifting himself once more. But for a guy who started out recording songs about spaceships and video games on a homemade computer while trying not to wake the neighbors, Elbogen sounds rather expansive this time out, both lyrically and musically. While the tinkling piano and terse guitar lines that frame the tunes don't exactly add up to an elaborate production aesthetic, we're not talking Robert Pollard territory here either, so let's drop the lo-fi tag right here and now. In fact, when Elbogen adds some additional keyboards to the mix, Um, Uh Oh feels downright colorful. And the songs themselves boast a level of craftsmanship and quality that's striking for somebody whose last batch of tunes was released less than two years earlier. While there are some downhearted moments over the course of the album, it's far from a mopefest. A perky pop feel prevails on several cuts, and insistently reiterated sentiments of optimism are at the heart of "Lookin' Good." Besides, anyone who's willing to make an offer like "I'll take you dancin' anytime you want to go" (on "Take Ya Dancin'") has obviously got more than a little room left for others in his heart, if not in his home studio.

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