In the Bible, Elika is called “the pelican of God,” one of David’s 37 distinguished heroes. Elika the Brooklyn rock band has slightly less lofty aspirations on its debut album Trying Got Us Nowhere. Beginning somewhere at the end, singer Evagelia Maravelias looks inward and backward, reflecting on the dissolution of a relationship on the opening track “The Whip.” With her matter-of-fact lyrics and down-turned cadences and partner Brian Wenckebach’s mellow electronic patter, “They’ll Hate Us” is like Liz Phair as produced by Boards of Canada. Maravelias’s vocals are gauzy and distant (“Boredom wakes you up/You’re still crying,” she sings on “Nowhere”), a perfect complement to Wenckebach’s shoegaze guitars and squelchy programming. The song expands into a throbbing b-section, guitars shimmering like a sheet of metal, before contracting back onto itself for a second verse and a rue-filled bridge backed by a wash of new-wave synths: “Trying got us nowhere/I remember everything/But I only wish you well.” It’s a rare gift to be able to compose melodies that feel instantly recognizable without sounding derivative and lyrics that convey so much with so little, but Maravelias does both on the pithy “To the End” (“There is no philosophy in saying the right thing/When I am not listening”) and “Let Down” (“I should have read my sister’s books as a young girl”). “There’s hope at the end,” she sings on the album’s cautious but optimistic final track “Eliana.” Like the album itself (just six tracks, not counting a two-minute instrumental interlude, “Confidence Killed My Spirit,” and the vinyl-only “Defeated”), the spacey and beautiful song is disappointingly brief, leaving you wanting more but ending with the promise of things to come.
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