Elaines by Household
reviewed by Yuri Zietz
“So, why should I buy the latest Household EP?”
Maybe because you've been waiting since the New York trio released "A New Leaf" as a single this past September after waiting two years since the release of their debut mini-album, Items. That's a long wait in the Information Age, but Items really commanded the attention by combining honey-sweet vocals and harmonies with stripped-down, post-punk instrumentation. Guitarist/vocalist Talya Cooper had previously declared her admiration for Christina Billotte in a Village Voice interview, and you can hear her influence not only in Cooper's serpentine guitar figures, but also in her cooly disaffected voice*.
Elaines, their new EP out now on Dull Knife, shares Items' spare sound and production but leans in harder. Jenna Weiss-Berman is here replaced with new drummer Nick Millhiser. Both hit the kit with a sparsity that serves the songs well, but Millhiser's attack seems tighter. This tightness really holds together the interweaving guitar, bass, and multiple vocal lines, the last of these alternately competing for your attention or else providing support for each other, often both as within quickie track "The Way Things Are."
Household seem more focused even as they diversify their sound. Witness "Out Of Reach", whose off-kilter intro harkens back to classic Pavement before veering at double speed into a minute-and-forty song suite, with Cooper musing on travel, solitude, and the city. It's simple, sophisticated, and tough. City music, for sure.
Six songs long, and not a dud in the bunch, the overall listening experience comes off like observing a slightly drunk professional figure skater alone at the rink: a muscular and graceful performance with an air of aloof distraction. Elaines sways, rocks, and lilts, but still cuts. After first discovering them last year, this is the kind of stuff I had hoped they would put out next, and I can't wait for their subsequent offering.
*Ms. Billotte, late of Slant 6, Quix*o*tic, and the Casual Dots, was reportedly spotted at several Baltimore area shows in 2013, but still no sign of any new musical projects. Alas.