“Say Hi To Your Mom is a boy named Eric” says the CD cover of the album Ferocious Mopes. To be exact, the `band’ is Eric Elbogen, an L.A. kid who moved to Brooklyn and makes music in his bedroom. Despite the dire sound of a loner isolated in his bedroom far away from his original home, SHTYM’s music is pop utopia, shimmering and bright, with hints of shadow.
Take the trembling vocal style and the keyboard graces of Grandaddy, throw in the clever lyrics of Rivers Cuomo and Ben Gibbard’s impossible love child, the earnestness of Conor Oberst, and the guitars of either Pavement or Weezer, and you still come up with only one guy, Eric Elbogen. His music is downright fun and catchy, especially on “The Death of Girl Number Two,” “Dimensions and Verticals” and “Poor Pete is a Bit Self Conscious,” but it is his lyrics that really stand out, and that’s saying something because the instrumentation is impressive enough on its own.
Take the aforementioned “The Death of Girl Number Two”:
Beneath your thick skin, there must have been a creature controlling you like a marionette robot. Or else how could you have said those things?…And the creature was a nasty bugger and she bit my arm clear right through, but now I know that wasn’t really you
As I listened to the album three times in a row, each separate time produced a new favorite song. First it was “Girl Number Two” then it was “Yeah, I’m In Love With An Android,” which is exactly what it sounds like:
Her kisses are metallic and her touch is firm but cold.
And I don’t think she sleeps at night, but plugs into the wall.
Elbogen goes on to say that there are far stranger things to love than an android and we believe him. But besides being witty and clever, he can be touching at the same time, especially in the lovely “I Think I’ll Be a Good Ghost” where he ponders the novelty of being `see-through’ and `feather light’ and whether or not girl ghosts will even notice him. Lyrics that appear in the songs “Dimensions and Verticals” and other songs on the album remind me of the smart set words of either Elvis Costello or Andy Partridge. And yes, they’re that good.
In “Recurring Motifs in Historical Flirtings”, Elbogen takes an age old idea, twists it into something new, and writes music around it that burrows into your skull:
And to me you say, “let’s just be friends!,” the four worst words in our language. But here’s another chance: I’ll fight him in a dance off and I’ll win, to a slow, slow BPM.
Say Hi To Your Mom wraps up the album with a `song’ that is less than a minute long, but no less memorable, clever, or wonderful. It’s called “As Smart as Geek is Chic Right Now” and I won’t transcribe the lyrics here as it really works like a short, short story, and I’ll need to save something for you to have to hear on your own.
Grandaddy- The Sophtware Slump
Death Cab for Cutie- The Photo Album