El Ten Eleven – Transitions – 95%

Transitions (album) cover art

It seems like everyone these days is trying to pigeon hole bands into these obscure genres that just don’t seem to actually exist. People try so hard to explain bands that they use these describing words that don’t make any logical sense. Crust-core? Psych-Drone? Post-Apocalyptic Folk? Do you see what I’m getting at? Why can’t we narrow things down and keep genres relatively simple? Well, there’s a reason, and bands like El Ten Eleven are the ones to blame.

Their new record is ‘Transitions’ and I’ve been flat-out obsessed with this album since getting my grubby hands on a copy. I’ve always appreciated El Ten Eleven’s work but never have I been drawn in by it the way I have with ‘Transitions’. The two-piece california band have truly outdone themselves by making one of the most easily accessible albums of the year. This is without question THE perfect album to spin if you’re trying to introduce post-rock to poor souls who have been stuck on bad radio rock all their lives. While the album carries itself as an upbeat post-rock album with flurries of math-rock and electronica everywhere to be found, it does so in such a obnoxiously and infectiously catchy manner that gives the whole thing a crazy pop aura to it.  El Ten Eleven are one of those rare chameleon bands that transcend genres with ease while still staying within the comfort zone of fans spanning multiple genres.

Clocking in at over 10 minutes, the title track kicks off the album and never has a track been more appropriately named. What begins as a track sounding something like what you would expect to hear during the opening credits of a summer time feel-good teen flick, out of nowhere a math-rock transition bursts through the track as cascading guitars overtake everything else going on. From there we have another well-timed transition where distorted guitars come in for about a minute until cutting out as the track comes full circle and the three different segments of the song blend together in harmony to form a deeply textured groove that you just can’t help but bob your head along with. A brilliantly designed track that showcases the musical prowess and masterminds of El Ten Eleven.

In the next track “Thanks Bill” we’re treated to rich vibrant bass and hypnotic electronic drums that transition into a slower moment of catchy as hell chords and  guitar offerings that will surely get stuck in your head for days to come. “Yellow Bridges” is about as normal as it gets on this album and feels much like an attempt to emulate the japanese math-rock style while keeping a strong core of what makes El Ten Eleven so unique. Fantastic layering makes the song feel deep while still retaining its fun-factor. “No One Died This Time!” is an electronic heavy track that’s full of delay pedal action and looping mixed with signature guitar work occupying the high-end as thick distortion sets a foundation on the lower end of mix. I feel like this track would be absolutely phenomenal to hear live.

“Birth” kicks things off with repetitive clapping and a thick bass distortion layer occupying most of the sound space. I really like this track because the layers really start to build up as though the distortion layer is a magnet continually attracting new sounds. “Tiger Tiger” is intriguing because on side of the spectrum the whole track is completely out there and has this abstract feel really working for it. On the other hand El Ten Eleven  have gone to the depths of their imaginations time and time again on this album and there are really no boundaries they won’t cross. While the track might be a bit strange it certainly fits the album. The album closes with “Lullaby” , a much slower and more ambient adventure that ends in bleak distorted quirkyness. Did you expect any different?

I listen to post-rock for the beauty, depth, trance-like repetitiveness and musical brilliance generally associated with the genre. So when an album like ‘Transitions’ comes along and completely changes the game with tracks that are endlessly fun, catchy and just simply  put a smile on your face enjoyable, I feel the need to place them on a pedestal. Honestly there hasn’t been an album this enjoyable and fun since Pan‘s “These Are The Thing’s I Love and I Want to Share Them With You” . While the album might be a light-hearted approach to post-rock it would be a mistake to not take El Ten Eleven seriously as major players in the genre. ‘Transitions’ is an album that by all means should take the band’s popularity to new heights. It’s too good not to. This is a must listen to album of 2012. 10/21/12

Available for $7 at http://www.elteneleven.com/#!music/cqo1