The Elected - Me First (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Elected

Me First (2004)

Sub Pop

"Congratulations, you just fucking disappeared," croons Blake Sennett, lead singer of The Elected. Let me first just say that there are not many bands or musicians that can pull off the F-bomb in the middle of a soft twangy album like The Elected's new album, "Me First."

This said, The Elected manage to pull it off.

They pull off a lot of things in this album pretty damn well.

So here is the line-up for The Elected, to those who are interested and like to follow people from one band to another: lead singer and guitarist Blake Sennett (also singer/songwriter of Rilo Kiley), Mike Bloom on lead guitar, Daniel Brummel on bass (bassist for Ozma, as well), and Jason Boesel on drums. This said, I will be honest: I don't know anything about Rilo Kiley (begin bashing of reviewer now). But if it is anything like The Elected, then I need to check them out.

Part of the reason that I like this album is because this band takes chances and pushes the boundaries and actually pulls it off in music that I can still sing along to. While this band is definitely not poppy or "happy" sounding like Ozma, it has a certain charm. In a way, it almost reminds me of Elliott Smith–mostly because it has that very personal, confessional, poetic feel (and perhaps also because Elliott Smith was one of the few musicians who could say fuck in a song and still make it mean something). With lyrics like "You're only worth one wish that you'll probably never make" (Track six, "Waves") and "At first it seems like a bad dream and you can't claw your way out" (track ten, "A Response to Greed"), The Elected draws you in. The singer seems to help in this feeling of intimacy and privacy. His voice is haunting at times, almost a whisper; at other times, raw and bold: he makes you want to join in as he sings about pains, missed chances, and the anxiety that everyone must feel at some time or another.

The musical elements in this album are not lacking, either. It has a uncooked sound that reminds me at times of Bright Eyes, the way that it is recorded. Honestly, though, I find the hooks in these songs much more catchy and more singable than Bright Eyes (at least many of the songs on Lifted). I like the mix of instruments on the different tracks, including trumpets, piano (on several tracks), lap steel (on a large number of tracks), synthesizer, and even bassoon, saxophone, glockenspiel, harmonica, violin, and whistling on a few select tracks. The way in which these instruments/sounds are incorporated into the music is what makes them work so well, however: they don't stink out, they become part of the song, and not the only focus of the song. They don't overpower the vocals, but instead enhance them.

This album is something that took me with a pleasant surprise. This band tries some different combinations, takes some risks, and, ultimately, makes everything come together in the end.