There are those records out there where people can point to them as a turning point in their musical taste or a shift in their musical aesthetic and say that the record really changed how they viewed entire swathes of music or entire genres, and I will never forget the day that I bought False Cathedrals from Elliott in part because the album did usher in a whole dramatic shift in my musical language and opened my eyes in some weird ways to how arresting pretty sounding music had the potential to be; but even with this type of hyperbole (which in reality it is not because the album definitely shifted my perceptions in a lot of ways), the one idea to not get lost is that False Cathedrals is just this great record.
Allow me to explain just how False Cathedrals completely blew my mind because it has affected the way that I listen to the album even now after these almost twelve years after I initially brushed wings with it; I popped this album on my CD player just after the airplane flight staff indicated that we could now use our electronic devices and proceeded to enjoy the way that the intro (“Voices”) leads directly into “Calm Americans” (which is a great track that is certainly one of my favorites off of the album), but as “Blessed By Your Own Ghost” came through my headphones, Elliott had my full attention, particularly when that chorus hit the first time and completely blew my mind and sold me on the album hook, line, and sinker.
“Blessed By Your Own Ghost” is truly one of the most beautiful songs that I have ever heard in my life and being (in my own imperfect estimation) one of the most finely crafted pop songs to have ever been written, and no, this is not vain or blowhard hyperbole, but rather a testament to the arresting music of the piece; a fade in drum and swirling keyboard and guitar ambience lays a gorgeous bed for vocalist Chris Higdon’s almost quivering voice that leads perfectly into the pre-chorus (introduced by a perfectly placed guitar strum) which then drops right back into the gorgeous verse until the hook of the chorus just sweeps you up into an almost rapturous mood (it is unbelievable how amazing this hook is as I rewind the part over and over again really taking in its effect), and when the “tough” sounding bridge kicks in, you can feel the emotion that these four guys poured into the song as they leave the bridge and head into another round of chorus and pre-chorus and chorus before the band walks you out to the song’s resolution.
Upon the perfect out of “Blessed By Your Own Ghost”, False Cathedrals took on a new level of personal regard and caused me to simultaneously restart the album from the beginning to experience in order to get the full effect of the emotional power of the album because there definitely felt like and is a strong thread making False Cathedrals a real album as opposed to just a collection of songs that are tossed together; one great song after another whistles by as the album progresses through “Drive On To Me” (a more upbeat, almost dance-y number with some cool background vocals all over the place) on to “Calvary Song” (which is just his dynamically powerful piece of song writing with a huge climax) then to “Lipstick Stigmata” (with its awesome chorus and driving bass guitar and tense arrangement) and “Dying Midwestern” (that chorus is so big sounding) and on and on (check out “Superstitions In Travel” and ‘Shallow Like Your Breath” and “Carving Oswego”, wait just listen to the whole album).
False Cathedrals is a purely awesome album and one that Elliott was never able to top, though that situation is tough to follow up on (producing a truly great record that is “career “ defining in most senses); but really there was almost no way that they could have because the album is just that good and sounds almost like a perfect storm of talent and emotions that crafted one of the finest albums not just from Elliott themselves but also on Revelation and (since these guys all came from punk and hardcore bands before forming Elliott) maybe even from the hardcore punk scene itself.
9.0 / 10
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