Part Grant McLennan, part Belle and Sebastian, and certainly part Ladybug Transistor--the incarnation that preceded this Brooklyn trio--Essex Green plays tunes that are at once deliriously bright and unabashedly laconic. They hail from Brooklyn, were once Ladybug Transistor, and are part of the Elephant 6 bloodline (that which spawned Olivia Tremor Control, Apples in Stereo, and Neutral Milk Hotel). And Essex Green loves, loves melody, snappy tunes with seemingly Scottish titles like "This Isn't Farmlife," and the lilting vocals, chiming guitars, and Fender Rhodes piano that so wonderfully serve A.C. Newman and the New Pornographers. That's the quixotic predicament with Essex Green: You've heard them before and yet haven't. You should. --Andrew Bartlett
The third full-length from this Brooklyn collective features songs that draw on themes of travel, exploration, and the desire for a quiet niche amid the pressures of big city living. The characters show a yearning to break free from the boundaries of city life (the cannibal sea), to escape the darkness and fatigue and move on to a lighter-hearted setting surrounded by water, replete with the spray of the sea and the lilting of a boat. Listening to this is like opening a songbook of classic pop. The twelve songs incorporate country-rock traces of The Byrds, the Greenwich Village balladry of Fred Neill, and the acoustic pop harmonizing of The Mamas And The Papas. Add the pure pop perfection of The Monkees, and mix with more modern traces of The Shins, The Hidden Cameras, and Jens Lekman, and you have a recipe for a sound that's timeless without being purely retro. Their strongest and most cohesive album. Merge. 2006.