Fossils may be an ironic album title for Vancouver-based Elias. While the name conjures something dated and old, this album isn’t that. It’s actually quite fresh and lively.
But then again, a fossil is a preservation of something older, so perhaps it refers to the influences that Elias wear on their sleeves. Part Muse, part Radiohead, part many other things, Fossils manages to still hold its own and not be a direct imitation of its forefathers.
When it comes to making an indie rock sound, the waters can sometimes be a little choppy. Some bands choose to go crazy with their arrangements while others choose a more minimalist approach. Elias seems to go right down the middle, working an intricate balance between the two.
The title track opens up the album, at first sounding like a piano ballad. However, once the guitar, bass and drums kick in, the song takes on a totally different quality, especially amplified by the shouts of another band member.
“Enough” sounds at first like Black Holes and Revelations-era Muse, though the song itself also morphs. “Knockdown Dance,” one of the most frantic (and therefore catchy) songs on the album has a driving guitar riff that reminded me distantly of Radiohead’s “Myxomatosis.”
The band gets contemplative from time to time. “Lake Louise” is one such example. “Everyone has their feet in the river/Everyone has their heads in the sea/I went under just to find my reflection/But I never caught a glimpse of me,” lead vocalist Brian Healy sings that the song’s beginning. What it means to have feet in the river and head in the sea is beyond me, but it’s an interesting image.
There are also songs like “Hands and Knees” and “Rising Tide” which are both criticizing whoever the target of the song is. The former is critical of someone who doesn’t take chances. The chorus says, “You always stand by the fire escape/You’re always waiting for your time to run out.” The latter song could be interpreted in many different ways, with ambiguous lines like, “You’re the rising tide swirling at my feet/You’re a sharpened blade cutting at the meat.” If the meat is meant to be the singer, then maybe the metaphor isn’t a positive one.
There are also nice touches that don’t feel at all superfluous, such as the occasional appearance of strings and piano. Overall, the album is a solid indie rock record.
Fossils is available via iTunes.
Top Tracks: “Knockdown Dance”; “Hands and Knees”; “Catapults”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)