This is not your older brother's Elliott.
Odds are, if you have an older brother, and he's in his mid-twenties, he probably loved the Elliott of old, playing "U.S. Songs" almost religiously. He anxiously awaited the day the band would come to town, bringing with them their unique post-hardcore-but-not-quite-emo sound, with absolutely insane guitarist Jay Palumbo in tow.
Your older brother was probably entering college when the group's second album, "False Cathedrals," came out. It was quite the departure from the band's previous work, incorporating drummer Kevin Ratterman's songwriting skills and ideas into the music. The sound went more atmospheric and layered, and caused a rift in the band between Palumbo and the rest. This rift was almost as great as the one caused between the album and your older brother. He really didn't dig the second disc at all, wishing that the band return to their simpler Louisville hardcore days.
If your brother was stunned by "False Cathedrals," he'd probably drop dead of disbelief after hearing "Song In The Air."
"Song In The Air," as far as I'm concerned, is Elliott's first proper album. The band has had so many lineup changes in the past 5 years that only now have they been solidified enough to write and record an album. Completely absent is any remnants of influence from Palumbo's frenetic guitar. The group has taken their sound on this release to a completely different level of comprehension - I can see this album blowing the minds of indie rockers who smoke pot. The music takes a decidedly mellow turn for the majority of the disc, almost pushing into the as-yet-uncharted emo-blues category [in "Believe"]. Atmospheric guitar effects provided by Benny Clark make you think of U2's Edge. A lot of old fans of the band have professed an undying hatred for Mr. Clark, claiming he "ruined" the band's old songs, but personally, I think he's fucking genius.
Singer Chris Higdon's voice is as soft and gentle as it has ever been, lulling the listener into a deep emotional slumber. He really shines on the title track, a piano, strings and voice arrangement. It's beautiful. That's about all I can say.
Speaking of strings - a string quartet tends to infiltrate a good portion of the tracks on here [being played by members of the Rachel's, I believe]. You can tell that a lot of careful thought went into this disc, and I think it pays out in spades.
The biggest part of the puzzle missing is any semblance of the "rock" on the album. The whole disc is very low-key, save two tracks. "Drag Like Pull" is an instrumental that really delivers, with a pulsating drumbeat coupled with Benny's aforementioned spacey guitar effects. Benny also brings "Away We Drift" to life, using reverb again coupled with a pulsating drumbeat. My only complaint is that more of the album isn't like this [even though I really, really enjoy the mellower stuff].
Oh yeah, the artwork is absolutely stunning, too.
Like I said, this isn't your older brother's Elliott. If you're one of the band's "purist" fans, then you'll despise this album. But enter with ears ready to be wowed, and you'll come away richer.
Download 4 MP3s off this release by joining Elliott's Yahoo! Group.