Electric President’s new record takes the ocean as its muse. Imagery of watery depths and ferocious seas abound, and, with this, an oppressing sense of loneliness, fear and death. Using these themes, the Florida-based duo is able to create a dark but lush song cycle that keeps the listener’s head just above the waterline.
Bridging two genres, indie pop and electronica, Electric President has consistently created music of alienation that is at the same time quite intimate. On The Violent Blue, they pair elegant and majestic accompaniments with accomplished wordsmithing. Check the opening on the second track, “Mr. Gone,” where smooth piano finds itself juxtaposed on top of a staccato vocal and drum rhythm, with a catchy refrain to end it all.
One aspect that becomes apparent after a few listens is Electric President’s tendency towards linear structures. There’s very little verse/chorus on this album and that’s a boon and a drag at points. These individual structures build a compelling arch across the record, creating tension and momentum while bringing the listener down into the record’s own world. At the same time the middle points of the record can feel tedious and middling because of this.
The title track, coming at the midpoint, is a good example. It consists of a minute of ambient sound, followed by one long verse and a coda of sorts at the end. The transitions come off as forced, but this is balanced, as the lyrics are some of the best on the record. Stark imagery of drowning, a hint of menace, some choice images: “my legs turn leaden” and “my lungs contract as the curtain thickens.” Any missteps are redeemed on the glorious closer, “All the Distant Ships.” A nine-minute odyssey that brings together most of the stylistic references made over the course of the record but given more space to breathe, allowing for more organic transitions.
Electric President is one of the more interesting groups working in this border world between electronic and indie. There are obvious similarities between them and many of their contemporaries like the Postal Service, Why?, and Subtle. However, Electric President still create a unique sound. They can retain an intimacy with the listener even while concocting an ever thicker sound and coupling all this with a their dark take on the world.