The cool but engaging indie pop of Elsinore's sophomore album Yes Yes Yes gets just a bit cooler and more polished on their third studio effort, 2013's Push/Pull. With group leader/guitarist/lead vocalist Ryan Groff and keyboard man Mark Woolwine joined by a new rhythm section for this album (bassist Brad Threlkeld and drummer James Treichler), Elsinore's music is lively and full of engaging melodies and memorable hooks on Push/Pull. But this album also sounds significantly less organic and spontaneous than Elsinore sounded in their early days, and Push/Pull plays like a piece of professional studio craftsmanship rather than the work of a band that ever intends to play this music in front of an audience, which drains much of the life out of these songs. (Significantly, producer Beau Sorenson gets a songwriting credit on all tracks.) Elsinore never sounded quite so much like Coldplay as they do on Push/Pull, and in this case, that's not a compliment; while Groff and company seemed to be having fun with the more ambitious approach of Yes Yes Yes, Push/Pull seems slicker but smaller at the same time, and for all the elegance of the product, there's noticeably less joy in the brilliantly executed harmonies and solid instrumental work here than in Elsinore's best work. There are still some splendid melodies on board (particularly on "Residential Weather" and "The Art of Pulling"), and you have to give Elsinore credit for growing and evolving with each album. But Push/Pull suggests this band has traded some of their wit and passion for a shining veneer, and veneer is rarely an ingredient in a great album.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming