Winter Sun is the debut of Elva, an indie pop group based in Norway that's co-led by Elizabeth Morris, formerly of Allo Darlin', and Ola Innset of like-minded Making Marks. (Elva means "the river" in Norwegian.) Fans of Allo Darlin' will be especially pleased to learn that not only does Morris retain her tuneful, bittersweet pop sensibilities here, but the album was produced by former bandmate Michael Collins and features string arrangements and violin by longtime collaborator Dan Mayfield. It's sweet, affectionate, and melancholy right from its first track, "Athens," a folky Morris song that opens with her voice and acoustic guitar before the band joins in. Lyrics such as "You're sleeping in, your body wrapped in hotel white/Didn't realize that I'd been feeling tired" accurately forecast partly cloudy skies. Later, the twee-esque ballad "I Need Love" combines spare strings and electric bass, later adding guitar and skeletal drums behind Morris' forlorn pleas. The Innset tunes tend to be livelier, with fleshier electric guitar arrangements, even feedback in the case of "Tailwind." That song, which features vocal harmonies by Morris, has likewise self-conscious lyrics, opening with the line "If you held me up against the light, you could see right through me." At the album's grungiest, "Airport Town" employs distortion and athletic drums, but remains in the realm of sweetness and longing thanks to Innset's distinctly warmhearted voice and the song's Lightning Seeds-like wistfulness. There's a flow through these differences in texture on Winter Sun that's established by its consistent tone (reflected in the title) and the effortless-sounding melodies of both songwriters. Given that Morris and Innset married in 2014, there's the hope of more such simpatico indie pop to come.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson