Ontario-based indie pop outfit The Elwins have garnered an impressive pile of attention and praise considering their relative youth. From performing alongside acts like Tokyo Police Club, Arkells, The Sadies, Brendan Canning and Walk Off The Earth or at festivals including SXSW, CMW, POP Montreal, and the Halifax Pop Explosion to being heralded an “act to watch” by tastemakers like Exclaim!, CBC Radio 3, and Torontoist.com, The Elwins have rapidly risen the rungs of the Canadian independent music scene – and all without a full-length offering to their name; however, that’s set to change with the release of their highly-anticipated long-player And I Thank You.
The band was born in 2008 when vocalist/guitarist Matthew Sweeney and drummer Travis Stokl bonded in a high-school hallway over their mutual love of The Flaming Lips. The two began writing songs together under the new banner and thereafter welcomed longtime friend Feurd Moore to handle keyboard and guitar duties. Most recently the band has welcomed Frankie Figliomeni to the fold, playing the bass guitar.
Since then they’ve seen their audience and, subsequently, the excitement surrounding their LP expand exponentially. Recorded in Seattle, produced by Bill Moriarty (Dr. Dog, Man Man) and Ryan Hadlock (Blonde Redhead, Islands, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks), and mixed by L.Stu Young (Prince, Sum 41), And I Thank You features a refined version of the band’s bouncy brand of ‘60s-tinged pop rock first revealed on their self-titled EP in 2010. Sweeney’s soothing vocals interplay beautifully with the band’s simple-yet-substantial arrangements, resulting in a sound that’s simultaneously fresh and familiar.
Songs like “Propinquity,” “On Your Doorstep,” and “Stuck In The Middle,” the first single from the album, boast a driving and danceable pace with some seriously sticky throwback melodies while others like “I Miss You And I” and “Behind My Eyes” are more serene in their delivery, directing further focus towards the band’s talent for writing tasteful, memorable lyrics while still carrying that undeniable overall charm.
That charm emerges more immediately, though, during the band’s lauded live shows. Dripping with fun (and facial hair), The Elwins’ notoriously high-energy sets are full of smile-inducing sing-alongs, plenty of crowd participation, giveaways, and even impromptu dance competitions. The energy emitted by the band is absorbed by audiences and reciprocated tenfold, resulting in an ever-escalating give-and-take that makes instant fans of any casual listeners within earshot.
Their quirky creativity also manifests itself outside of their musical output, be it onstage or in-studio, with the band designing and making many of their own merch items (which can range from mugs and sunglasses to pillows and tote bags) and producing their own series of videos.
The Elwins may not take themselves too seriously, but the same can’t be said for their career. It’s all part of an effort to continually engage their audience while also adding to it, and needless to say, it’s a formula that’s been working wonders thus far. With the release of And I Thank You, their profile can only be propelled upward, and there are plenty of people wondering just how high.