Ellevator emerges fully formed on “The Words You Spoken Still Touch Me”
Published on May 06, 2022
For a debut album to emerge as if forged from a decades-long discography is an impressive feat, but that’s exactly what the Hamilton trio Ellevator achieves with The words you said still move me. A lyrical and musical success, this album transforms each of our tiniest feelings, each seemingly inconsequential failure and hurt, into raging epics, blasting them to the Hellenic proportions they hold in our minds and lives. This album washes away the hardened blood to reveal years-old scars, while arming for their retribution.
Produced by Chris Walla (formerly of Death Cab for Cutie) and created by the trio of singer Nabi Sue Bersche, guitarist Tyler Bersche and bassist-keyboardist Elliott Gwynne, Ellevator’s debut album rides on a strong wave of lyricism inspired and literary and superb guitar and keyboard work. reminiscent of the best of emo and early 2000s punk rock. Giving new vocabulary to a sort of nerve-wracking pain and anger like hot tears burning a path down cheeks, The words you said still move me challenges those in pain (including ourselves) to try again. He does not come from a place of infallibility or some kind of austere wisdom, but from a more terrifying place: a place too weary to be afraid, a place of deep attendant knowledge, and the strength that that knowledge brings in the form of growth.
About halfway through the album is the moody “Mother”. Returning to the best of Paramore and Metric, this track about heartbreak best encapsulates the lyrical prowess of Ellevator. “The words you said still move me, clinging to my mind / Whatever you are now, spirit or ghost, I see you in these moments and you feel so close,” Bersche sings in the chorus. Considering the weight of what it means to carry memories of those who depart, Bersche’s voice contains a constant force that seems to suggest that she’s learned how grief works, and, while that sucks, maybe she’s better off. equipped to deal with its bite now, see the steps it takes to treat it. “I don’t want to, but I will, I don’t want to be the one to mourn you,” Bersche laments as the keyboard lingers like a heartbeat. “I don’t, but I go, I don’t want to see you around every corner / I don’t, but I go, I don’t want you to let go.” The drums and electric guitar here are galvanizing and powerful, pure 2005, and as they reach the end of the song they twirl and twirl, a true symphony of beautiful noise crafted with bleeding care.
On “Better,” the electric guitar blooms like an orchid, soft at first, then surprisingly. A track whose words look at what it’s like to go from being for someone to ultimately being for yourself, “Better” digs into new and old wounds, alchemizing them through lush lyrics like a Daphne du novel. Maurier in opportunities for growth, badges that perhaps testify not to a life well lived, but to be lived at all, which is sometimes the greatest feat. “Are we defeated, has the season passed without good news,” Bersche intones. “Our intention faded soon after it bloomed,” she sings in a voice that would be easy to compare to Phoebe Bridgers, but would be more comfortable among the likes of Stevie Nicks and even Vanessa Carlton.
There’s an element to this record that emo lovers can appreciate, the lyrics so juicy that you splatter your shirt and gum your hands. Ellevator, through words as beautiful as the music here, reminds us of the beauty of the words themselves, especially as they are narrated by Bersche’s voice, which seems to take so much joy in pronouncing each syllable. The rich vignettes contained in the lyrics are not narrative; on the contrary, they are metaphorical and aphoristic, almost academic, containing the insights gleaned only from hard-earned experience, containing nuggets of wisdom that listeners will be afraid to lose if they don’t cherish every word. Indeed, every word here is equally cherished by the band: music and lyrics combine to create tracks that sound familiar yet are delightfully new.
“Party Trick” is the dormant hit from this album, beginning like curtains drawn from the eyes, with the lingering, unrepentant pinch of a keyboard. Backed by electric guitar like a golden staircase, this track’s lyrics flow like an unfolding logical argument, each premise building on its predecessor, landing at the conclusion like a punch in the gut. The track is about a person who has grown accustomed to sadness to the extent that it hypnotizes others with it, and the form of this track follows that idea, featuring dazzling music to distract from sour words and doom. ‘Warning. The effect of this song is to seduce you, to make you elide your own guilt into your own sadness, while making you shake your head at its accusations. “You could have anybody, but you don’t want nobody / ‘Cause if you had anybody, you wouldn’t be alone / And that’s your party thing,” Bersche’s voice says. “I’m done with this,” she finally sings — a diss that could so easily be directed at oneself.
The reverence for the words on this album is perhaps its greatest gift, and through it Ellevator is able to allow listeners to glean their multiplicity of meanings and achieve a unique understanding of hard-earned strength. Like a firm hand on his shoulder, The words you said still move me will guide listeners through their idiosyncratic torments in the cathartic manner of early 2000s pop rock, with the added novelty of Bersche’s delicately biting vocals and skillfully crafted, deftly played music. One wonders how such a young band will ever manage to debut, and one hopes they do so with full force. (Arts and Crafts)