Elf Power – Walking With the Beggar Boys

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 2)

2023 was the Year of Elf Power. Not really. But sort of. During the year, I saw Elf Power live; bought two Elf Power albums (only one of which I am keeping); saw the Elephant 6 documentary (The Elephant 6 Recording Co.); and read a book about the Elephant 6 collective (Endless, Endless:  A Lo-Fi History of the Elephant 6 Mystery). My main takeaway? Laura Carter is not getting enough credit.

What I Think of This Album

This sixth proper Elf Power album (not counting the covers album) is a bit of a departure for the band, moving away from the Tolkienesque imagery of their psychedelic work and embracing more conventional sounds. It is a refreshing modulation, succeeding as both a sign of growth and skill and also a reminder of relevance. Way to go, Laura Carter and Andrew Rieger (and others).

“Never Believe” is basically power-pop, with some creative keyboard effects and Rieger’s plaintive vocals. A glammier tone is struck on the title track, with the added feature of guest vocals from Vic Chestnutt, and an insistent repetitive guitar line and some tinkling piano and call-and-response backing vocals.

“Drawing Flies” is fantastic with its coy sighing vocals and not-coy fuzz guitar. There is a simple, jangly prettiness to “Evil Eye,” whereas “Don’t Let It Be” charges ahead with punkish energy. And “Hole In My Shoe” gradually earns its place on the album, with some clever instrumentation. 

The neo-bluegrass elements of “Empty Pictures” provide a beautiful backdrop for an unexpectedly poignant ballad. The closer is “Big Thing” and it is a big thing indeed, muscular and loud and, dare I say, joyous.

Less successful is the folky “The Stranger,” which is way too precious, coming off like a kudzu-strewn Robyn Hitchcock covering Simon & Garfunkel’s “Richard Cory.” The band doubles down on creativity with “The Cracks,” an ominous piece replete with industrial percussion and creepy keyboard lines, though that isn’t to say it’s a pleasant listen. “Invisible Men” never develops into anything distinctive.

The Best Thing About This Album

“Empty Pictures,” though it is a close call with several other tracks.

Release Date


The Cover Art

Boring and self-indulgent. I really don’t need to see your kids and pets on your album cover.

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