Based in Brighton, England, Velvet Elephant is comprised of three friends who all study music at the University of Sussex. Only two weeks passed between the band’s formation and the creation of their debut EP Sit Up which was recorded in one eleven hour recording session at the university studio. Blending many influences such as reggae, jazz, rock and hardcore, Sit Up is an upbeat collection of musical ideas that simultaneously impresses and inspires.
The album begins with “Sit Up,” a smooth rolling groove with light percussion, synthesizer chording and strong vocals. As the song builds in intensity, saxophone riffs make an appearance, as well as dissonant organ chords and staccato vocal harmonies. The song’s funk persists throughout the entire track with variation and solos that make for a very enjoyable and interesting listen.
“Rest” opens with wistful piano playing and equally emotive vocals before transitioning into a more uptempo, driving beat led by crisp drums, synthesizers and a pulsing bass. Reverb-laced vocals are accompanied by jazzy scatting and quick interjections of lyrics by a chorus of voices. The swinging beat is central to the song’s atmosphere and is juxtaposed by the aggressive singing style of the lead singer.
An ultra-catchy hand clapping motif forms the basis of the intro to “Falling,” along with minor chording and solid percussion. The ominous mood continues as vocals take the limelight, layering rhythmic singing with harmonies and instrumental touches that make for a genuine jazz jam. The clapping motif returns several times towards the end of the song, maintaining a high level of energy as the album comes to a close.
Listeners will be hard-pressed to find a debut EP as mature and varied as Sit Up, a fact even more impressive given the extremely short time in which the album was made. Memorable riffs, enticing lyrics and a cohesiveness that many bands would kill for are just a few of the elements that set Velvet Elephant apart, and it is clear that they are only just beginning their musical career.
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