Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel

Goodbye Blue Sky

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    8
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After two albums of keyboard-driven psych rock that shone like the flash of a paisley scarf on an overcast day, Mr. Elevator's third album Goodbye, Blue Sky is a much gloomier listening experience dominated by washes of synths, Tomas Dolas' downcast vocals, and melodies that don't just pluck at the heartstrings, but give them a big twang instead. It's a big change from the group's previous work, but Dolas guides things with the same questing, inspired (and guitar-free) approach as before and the results are as thrilling as a record that sounds too sad to get out of bed can be. Much of the record is pinned somewhere south of somnambulant, with Dolas' keys building a soft wall around his whispered vocals like a thick blanket. Tracks like "Love Again" bridge the gap nicely between spacy synth exploration and psychedelic heartache, soft instrumentals such as the easy listening treat "Bamboo Forest" show that Dolas has a knack for arrangements that hasn't been fully taken advantage of in the past, and songs like "Anywhere" and "Down" have the kind of relaxed, lost-in-the-clouds beauty that Air had at their early peak. There are a few tracks that take a slight left out of the gloom -- like the jerky, new wave-inspired "Kompressor," the almost-rollicking "Sylvia," which sounds like Stereolab transported to California in the late '60s and recording a soft drink commercial, and the snaky, jazz-influenced "Alone Together" -- but they never break the spell of the bummer trip that Dolas and friends are on. It's a fine trip to tag along with thanks to the skill Dolas uses when layering together the various vintage keys, the sympathetic backing of the bass and drums, and the amount of care and thought that goes into every second of every song. Not to mention the sometimes sadly pretty, always deeply felt songs that help push record over the top. Mr. Elevator already had a couple of records that positioned them as a band to watch for fans of weird and wonderful psychedelic music, Goodbye, Blue Sky makes good on that promise while shifting gears in fascinating fashion.

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