Elenora - Luna Amante
Record Label: None (Self-Released)
Release Date: April 8, 2014
Something feels very off listing Elenora's debut full-length album, Luna Amante, as a self-release. The 6-piece post-hardcore outfit from the state of Oregon demonstrated early promise and a knack for catchy hooks with their debut EP, 2009's In Reality I Am and its more polished 2012 follow-up,Avant-Garde. Elenora’s first full-length effort is drenched in the kinds of well-plotted song structure that one would expect from a band with the support and vetting of a record label. I’ve got to imagine it won't be long before this band is signed to one once this album gets around.
The album is divided into two "Acts" by an instrumental intro and interlude. "Act 1: Memento Amare" serves as a tone-setting buildup, dropping right into the album's first single, "Said the Sapling to the Sun". Putting vocalist Alexander Prescott in the spotlight, the song packs a big, soaring chorus that's well textured by Prescott's brother, Victor, on both the keyboard and screams. In a lot of ways, the song encapsulates my reservations about the band's very polished distilling of post-hardcore influences such as Chiodos and Circa Survive... at first listen the track can come across as a tad generic, playing along to the blueprint of the scene with lyrics that lean a little heavy on the metaphor. Yet at the same time, there's something to be admired by just how well the band goes about hitting its marks. Prescott's high-pitched vocal stylings, while at times grating, pack a distinguished, somewhat R&B quality to them that lets the band capitalize on its ability to build up to a big hook or chorus.
"Lost in the Sea (Intimacy), Pt. II" is the first stab at the band's more atmospheric side, but the production here makes the song one of the more forgettable tracks, with the vocals sound slightly too piercing. Luckily the band proceeds to knock it out of the park with the next track, "Simone". It's one of the few songs where Elenora holds off on its screaming, and it pays off in a big way. The track features a vibrant chorus that is textured perfectly with backing piano melodies and soaring vocal harmonies, with guitarists Casey James and Kurt Fields holding down a fierce breakdown that somehow manages to feel just perfectly placed in this mostly bright, poppy love song. It's hard to think of anyone else who is making music quite like this, and it's one of the places where Elenora really show their potential to take the scene’s sound in a new direction.
The first act closes with "Penny Serenade" and title-track "Luna Amante", both featuring some of the better lyrical endeavors on the record as Prescott delves into love and loss. Both tracks serve as perfect examples of the band developing an atmosphere through their sound, while the title track incorporates the band’s more pop elements into the mood they compose for themselves.
The back half of the album is where the band begins to explore the broader range of its influences, yet this comes at the cost of many of the tracks feeling less polished and somewhat forgettable. The group still manages to pull it together on songs like the heavily Dance Gavin Dance-influenced "I'm Trevor Collins, And These Are My Real Teeth", and goes out on a bit of a limb with the piano ballad "Words Unspoken". There's somewhat of a jazzy, lounge-singer tone to Prescott's vocals over top his brother's carefully plotted notes - while not the best track for demonstrating the band's sound, it does provide an interesting illustration of the band's creativity and willingness to color outside of the lines from time to to time. The closing track "A Snake Will Say It Loves You" provides a good bookend to the album, once again delving into the textured range of sounds Elenora deploys before ending on a tone-shifting knockout of a breakdown at a moment's notice.
As far as debut albums go, Luna Amante is a serviceable effort for Elenora. While at times the group leans on its influences to the point of sounding derivative, there are several moments on this album that the band provides a refreshing and unique take on the post-hardcore genre. Prescott's vocals can feel a bit off the mark at times and might take some getting used to, but tracks like "Simone" and "Luna Amante” demonstrate a catchiness that is unique in its approach and has the potential to take the group places if developed carefully. Here's hoping somebody decides to take a chance on these guys, because they've sure came a long way on their own so far.