In an almost entirely majestic move, Elvis Perkins has done everything in his power to remain a centrally focused person. Having lost both of his parents to tragic circumstances, his music’s always prevailed on themes of life and death alike. And while his debut carried a tenderly elegant feel, his newest album, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, is a brisk flush of straight up Americana.
He’s gone one better with The Doomsday EP, released just seven months after the aforementioned album, this is an excellent release in every conceivable way. Taking his cues from the title track that appears in an almost identical take, Perkins presents his ideas with the help of gospel-based harmonies and old-fashioned, downtrodden vintage Americana roots.
There is absolutely no denying the gifted talent Perkins possesses as both a musician and as a connoisseur of rolling emotions in a weighty ball of poignant beauty. The slow tide that takes over “Stay Zombie Stay” is funneled with organ that sounds like it’s being blown through an attic and a country-twanged guitar that speckles with charming warmth. All the while, Perkins is left swaying side to side as he calls for his lover to stay by his side and with the help of a band that neatly gels right alongside, he’s able to carry the song the entire way.
The overall despair and mood on Ash Wednesday was Perkins’ way of coping with the sudden death of his mother. The album was shaped by this tragedy and it revealed a true ability of being able to hone one’s strengths into something that could still be a success. It didn’t take long before XL would pick up the rights to that self-released gem and catapult it to the righteous air it deserved. Things follow suit with The Doomsday, only this time, there is a bursting amount of uplift and optimism.
Not only are the harmonies on “Weeping Mary” something that could be sung in any Christian service but so could the music’s words: describing Jesus’ plight from crucifixion to rising above and Mary coming to find that her son has “ascended in a cloud.” Perkins’ opening lines, with his band featured in full support, is one of the finest musical moments of the year. Everything from his cadence to his fluctuations to his enunciations are fantastically conveyed (just check out the way he says “he a-rose”) and it swells into an upbeat pumping of superb music.
You can’t help but feel like Perkins’ shining moment is just a year, or another release, away. He’s got everything one could want in their music: songwriting skill, melodic prowess and a singular personality infused throughout all of it; there is no reason why he shouldn’t be getting more attention. Recognizing that The Doomsday EP may just be another step in the direction, it’s also an absolutely admirable collection of music. Even at just six songs, they’re each powerfully presented and Perkins is better for it, in astonishingly marvelous fashion.
“Slow Doomsday” by Elvis Perkins