The Elevator Division – Years

Those indie-rock fans familiar with the sound coming out of Kansas City – and Second Nature Recordings for that matter – may be a bit surprised by Elevator Division. In fact, even those that have heard any of the band’s previously self-released albums may find Years an interesting development. Elevator Division has eschewed the Midwestern emo sounds of its hometown and of its own previous works and turned out an album rich and deep in tone and harmony, a release owing as much to U2 and Coldplay as Jeff Buckley.

For its widest and most mature release yet, Elevator Division enlisted the production efforts of Larry Gann, known for his work with Elton John, Oleta Adams, and Natalie Merchant. Gann brought out a richness of tone to Years that perfectly fits the dynamic and soaring vocals and harmonies of the band as well as the guitar and bass that hark back to the more ‘modern’ sounds of the mid-80s and -90s. In case you weren’t paying attention, that ‘retro’ thing is popular these days, but Elevator Division provides enough of a timeless rock quality so that it doesn’t feel retro at all.

The opening “October” has a catchy chorus, rich with gorgeous vocal harmonies and guitar lines that soar along with the vocals. It’s a nice intro to the much more bass-heavy “Radio,” a track that reminds me of the Cure and current favorites Interpol. On “Devotion,” the band ups the rock a bit with some guitar soloing, and on “Cemetery Road,” the band shows off a quieter side, with some nice, quiet effects and a more patient pace. This track does have a Midwestern vibe, reminding me of some of Waxwing’s more lofty moments. “Rearview Mirror” and “Tempo of Three” feel a bit more modern too and have fantastic bass lines, making this one-two punch the album’s highlight.

There’s a few songs here that feel a bit artificial in pacing. “Confession,” for example, would benefit from more liveliness in its verses, and “God Send” has some nice guitar reverb but an overly repetitive guitar line that ruins the song for me. In fact, at times the band reminds me of a mid-90s one-hit wonder I heard recently, Dishwalla. That’s not really a knock, but with so many more powerful moments here, it shows some room for improvement.

Years is a very well-crafted album of rich and soaring rock. It has a timeless, classic feel and an incredibly rich tone that makes it a delightful listen. And while it’s a very strong album in its own right, I can’t help but feel it’s the definitive building point for a band that quite possibly has arenas in its future.