Seattle indie-rock supergroup the Postal Service hit on the vibe of 2020 with the single "We Will Become Silhouettes," even if the band released it fifteen years ago. The song, with lyrics about stockpiling food and refusing to come out until "this is all over," feel eerily at home today — in a year that started a charity ostensibly to help starving children and then used the money to buy itself nutritional supplements from Infowars.
Denver psych-rock quintet Eldren found the song particularly poignant as it soldiered through the COVID-19 pandemic, so much so that the band used the cover to cap off its fourteen-song and video cycle Separation Sessions. The band's joyful, LSD-trip-invoking version gives the original a serious run for its money. The song has an inviting quality — like if a cult were playing it as you happened by: You might not join outright, but you’d likely sit through a meeting and come to the picnic.
“We started that right at the beginning of quarantine,” says vocalist and guitarist Tyler Imbrogno. “We did a lot of different things, a lot of different styles, eras and genres of covers, but we wanted to do one that was particularly appropriate to the times.”
Guitarist and vocalist Nasir Malik says the bandmates used modern technology so they could record music without being able to come together in the physical sense.
“It was a good opportunity for us to learn how to work remotely,” he says. “It kind of forced us to grow as recording artists. … All the videos we made, we made ourselves. We didn’t really have anyone help us, and all the music we made is self-produced and self-mastered.”
Separation Sessions represents a variety of musical genres and moods. Eldren covered the Beatles, Soundgarden and Tenacious D, to name a few. The bandmembers looked at the exercise as a way to have fun but progress as artists.
“There are sadder songs, there are timely songs to what’s happening right now,” Malik says. “And then there are just kind of goof-off songs. We did Eddie Murphy’s ‘Party All the Time,’”
One noteworthy song in the collection is a trap version of “Hooked on a Feeling,” by B.J. Thomas and later Blue Swede, complete with the machine-gun hi-hats, synth lines, and autotune vocals that define the genre. Imbrogno even decorated his face with fake tattoos, and he makes a convincing-looking mumble rapper. (No word on whether he's leaving the band to pursue a solo career.)
“The lyrics actually fit better on a trap song than they do in the style they were originally written in,” says Malik.
COVID-19 has murdered live music since March, but the members of Eldren have been prolific in their output. They plan on a streaming release of Separation Sessions, and they have a new, as-yet-untitled album that will hopefully drop sometime in August. They say the new record will have a more organic sound than their last album, Miss Information Aged.
“It might be a little bit of a move back to organic and more personal songs — organic in terms of the sounds of instruments,” Imbrogno says. “I think Miss Information leans more toward synthesized and electronic kind of stuff, thematically and sonically.”
Malik says the upcoming release is a little more collaborative, and the band feels more comfortable with its sound and has "found a better groove."
“Tyler and I worked a lot more together,” Malik says. “On Miss Information, a lot of the songs were fleshed out individually.”
On Friday, Eldren released a video for its latest single, “Fell In." The song, about the emotional response when you first become enamored with a person or place, had about 10,000 streams on Spotify as of last week, according to a news release from the band. The video features footage from before and after the COVID-19 pandemic began, include “b-roll” shots taken during Malik’s trip to Japan.
“I went on a trip to Japan with my girl partner, my partner, and a bunch of our friends,” Malik says. “A lot of that footage is from the Tokyo, Kyoto,and Nagano region.”
Imbrogno says that the band shot the remaining footage around the Denver area and socially-distanced; he enjoys the contrast between the older, happier times of Malik’s Japan trip and the present day.
“It’s still a hopeful look at the future,” he says. “But also says a bit about the dichotomy of where we are now and what life was like before, and what we can hopefully get back to.”
For more information, check out Eldren's website.