Elf Power's eighth record, Back to the Web, is certainly a big stylistic change from their last album, Walking with the Beggar Boys. Perhaps it's due to the time spent on the Orange Twin farm that lead singer and songwriter Andrew Rieger has been inspired to take a more organic, acoustic approach to his music, even ditching that lo-fi fuzzy sound that has defined many of Elf Power's records (maybe the move to new Warner affiliate Rykodisc precipitated this change) for a cleaner, smoother feel. Gone are the sweet indie pop/rock melodies everyone's learned to expect and instead come folky, acoustic guitar-driven songs. Rieger's dreamlike lyrics on Back to the Web are all heavily influenced by nature, and while Rieger's not always singing about it explicitly (though he can), nature is what he bases nearly all of his metaphors and imagery around. It acts as his solace, his guide; it provides structure; it's what creates and gives. Not that Rieger's environment is always a positive thing. "Rolling Black Water," for example, is a menacing and ominous song, conjuring up images of death and depression, but this is an exception: for the most part the natural world only aids in Rieger's comprehension of life. Though some Elf Power fans may be satisfied with the few songs that are reminiscent of the band's previous records ("The World Is Waiting," "23rd Dream") and the abstract, occasionally prog-like references to masters and kings, others may be disappointed, or at least confused, by the focus on experimenting with dark, Middle Eastern-inspired drones mixed with Western pop/folk sensibilities. But Elf Power -- and Elephant 6, for that matter -- have never concerned themselves too much with definitions, and if Back to the Web is just another step in the band's musical career and development, it certainly bodes well for an interesting future.
AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown