Elliott Green – ‘everything i lack’

Posted: by The Editor

Building a spectral atmosphere out of patient piano, hypnotic guitar lines, and haunting strings, Elliott Green’s everything i lack feels like a much-needed conversation at a bar with an old friend. Everything bubbling behind your thoughts comes out, measured and delivered at times, cascading and explosive at others, with the dynamics and emotions on the record feeling like different points in that conversation. Lyrically, the record seems to come from the period of lostness following the end of a relationship—the longing to go back and redo certain moments, the overreliance on alcohol to dull the days, and the final catharsis that comes from the exploration of it all (captured beautifully on the album’s cinematic closer “Final Recap”). 

The first half of everything i lack follows a clear musical arc, slowly and naturally expanding the reach of these songs from the sparse piano on opener “Friendly Advice” and the spiraling acoustic riff on “Second Try.” They’re followed by the meditative and stunning “Referee,” a tune with some memorable lyrics, with “I’ve been a stranger in a costume of somebody at peace / living my whole life like I’m a kid on halloween” being followed with “I thought that I was miserable because of the drink / then I let myself be miserable with full clarity / and realized that I was miserable because of me” after an instrumental pass through the riff.

Along with “Separate Beds” on the B side, “Consolation” works as an enthralling turning point on the record. Growing from spartan piano, Green’s heartbreaking vocal delivery, and a steady synth “Consolation” pushes everything i lack into another realm—a cleansing and healing purge that feels like both a low and high point in the record’s arc with the final lines of “and I’ll burn it all down pouring gasoline / nobody’s gonna save me from me / no holy water’s gonna make me clean / and I can live without your sympathy / don’t think I can without another drink.” When things really get stormy sonically, with percussion added and the loudest, most chaotic instrumentals yet on “Goodness,” it’s not a surprise, feeling like the only place these songs could go—like a rushed confession of what’s really eating at you before falling back into more reserved conversation, maybe having revealed too much but the better off for it.

“No Witnesses” pulls things back after the crescendo of “Goodness,” sticking to a loping electric guitar pattern and evocative lines like “kicking dust from the pavement into my mouth / like a ritual in a liquor store parking lot.” The quieter reserve of “No Witnesses” carries over with to the opening of “Separate Beds,” but the relatively busier piano points to where “Separate Beds” is headed, as the final break of “so go on, I don’t need you, your form in my sheets / was a ghost I was chasing but I couldn’t keep” is backed with the record’s most gorgeous string arrangement. “Bottom Line” pairs a gritty, bouncy acoustic pattern with some spooky interjections from the electric underneath lines like “I wish I was a narcissist, I wish I really couldn’t help it / I did it only out out spite, the worst you could think of me is too kind,” while “Boxer” takes it’s time before breaking into the record’s second explosion of noise after “Goodness.”

Like the best kind of music that gets thrown in the “sad songs” category, the tunes on everything i lack are packed more with catharsis than wallowing, as the act of creating the record itself already rises the tracks above any accusations of indulgence in self-pity. Here, Green has found the perfect pattern in the messy chaos explored in the lyrics, with her vision fully coming into focus when you get to “Final Recap,” the starkest and loneliest song on the record. Green’s piano is accompanied mainly by a movie projector underneath lyrics that dispense with any need for metaphors like “I spent the weekend feeling sorry for myself / ‘cause I couldn’t bare the thought of seeing you with someone else / I only wish you hadn’t dragged it out / severed it instead of telling me that we could work it out” or the album’s closing line “so baby go have fun. go on and meet someone / and get lonely with them too.” In the end, the film reel plays out and you’re left feeling like you’re looking at an empty stage, the sudden silence allowing the album to settle and bringing a feeling of clarity that comes with finally emerging from a period of darkness.

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal

everything i lack is available on cassette through Count Your Lucky Stars Records.

Aaron Eisenreich | @slobboyreject

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