The Velvet Teen - Elysium (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Velvet Teen

Elysium (2004)


I have always had immense respect and love for The Velvet Teen. I first heard them when they were touring with Cursive. Their music shocked me. Beautifully composed and delivered. Singer Judah Nagler's voice literally sent chills running down my spine. Elysium, the newest album by the Velvet Teen sent those chills running again, shocking me beyond belief.

Elysium is by far, the best album I have heard this year. It is a story beautifully orchestrated by drums, bass, piano, and strings. No guitar. The eight tracks run just over 45 minutes, each one, flawless.

The album begins with an instrumental track that sounds as if it could be the soundtrack of a horror movie. Eerie piano and electronic sounds pierce your eardrums - in some ways, haunting. The album then moves into the coaxing and hypnotizing sound of "Penicillin" and "A Captive Audience." The Fourth track, "Chimera Obscurant," is a twelve minute lyrical masterpiece of emotion and anxiousness. The latter half descends into tranquility with the album favorite of mine, "Poor Celine," "Forlorn" and "We Were Bound (to bend the rules)."

For those who have been fans of the Velvet Teen, at a fist listen Elysium may seem very different then their previous work. It is much more mellow, lacking any sort of poppy hooks that were found in songs such as "Counting Backwards", "Naked Girl", and "Radiapathy". But there is no need for any hooks on this album. The 45 plus minutes of beauty speak for themselves, and leave you longing to hear more piano and Judah's low voice lulling you.

John K. Samson has always been a lyrical favorite of mine. However, the Velvet Teen has taken the edge with this album. Disguised in the album art, it is hard to read all, if any of the lyrics. However, they have just been added to the band's website. I recommend reading them - they are amazing.

Production wise Elysium is perfect. It still has a raw feel, but flows seamlessly from track to track. I was hesitant at first, afraid that the album would be overproduced and stripped of the creativity that has become a trademark of The Velvet Teen. But it should have come as no surprise - the production was simply put, perfect. Slowdance Records knows how to allow their musicians to grow without polishing their finished products to the extreme.

When you hear an album like Elysium, it is always bittersweet. You wonder if it can ever be surpassed. Honestly, this music is unprecedented, and unlike anything I have heard. However, this is The Velvet Teen we are talking about. A group of talented musicians that have never failed to amaze their fans. I have complete faith that they can still grow musically, and it excites me to imagine what they will come up with next. After all, "there's so much to be done, and [they're] right on the cusp".