Rishi Dhir has no reservations embracing the retro sounds and dated influences to form the unique dynamic that psych-pop trio, Elephant Stone, has become. Dhir, the group’s frontman and bassist, has a predilection for Beatles-esque 60’s style clean melodies that he then dresses with more contemporary psych-rock attributes. The Quebecois trio have elevated their songwriting as well as production for their fourth album, Ship Of Fools, which features more than a few stand-alone hits. Pensive strumming, explosive psychedelia, and blissful choruses are all on offer on Ship Of Fools, and Elephant Stone’s confectioned psych-pop charm permeates throughout each track.
Opening track “Manipulator” serves as a harbinger for the versatility to come, as the track is a danceable rock song with diabolical lyrics and succeeds in fusing both a ‘house beat’ and a ‘Motown beat’. “Cast The First Stone” opens with Kills-esque guitars and wonky synths that eventually devolve into a funk-filled call to dance. It is obvious from the outset that the third track on Ship Of Fools, “Where I’m Going”, is an ear-worm with a special bass line and undeniable coolness about it, that make it an early favorite.
Elephant Stone has toured and collaborated with an impressive roster of musicians including Beck, the Black Angels, and even Anton Newcombe. While their ‘psychedelic’ nomenclature is certainly appropriate- considering the company they keep( and the fact that Dhir also plays sitar)- the band is also comfortable playing folk-style songs like in “Run, Sister, Run” and even go new wave in “Au Gallis”.
The song “Photograph” is a tip of the hat to 60’s songwriters with its simplistic yet beautiful verse while “Andromeda” is a winding psych-heavy beauty that evokes celestial themes. Alex Maas of the Black Angels steps in on “The Devil’s Shelter” for the unquestionable highlight track of the album. Maas brings urgency and another voice to the call-and–response going on inside the song, making the track build into an instant classic.
If Ship Of Fools were Elephant Stone’s first album, you would be hard pressed in deciding which part of the record store it belongs in. Eclectic sounds and influences swirl in symphonic beauty in their latest edition, making it their best effort to date. An equally exhilarating live show makes Elephant Stone a deadly combination of talent that, still just seven years in, seems to be only just getting started.