From time to time, I get to contribute to NPR Music’s series Heavy Rotation, which asks public radio stations across the country to talk about some of their favorite songs of the moment. Here’s another one I got to write, on Elvis Depressedly‘s song “New Alhambra” from his latest album of the same name. Check it out and other songs here.
Under the punny moniker Elvis Depressedly, Mat Cothran has churned out a steady stream of songs defined by atypical recording techniques, a hodgepodge of junk gear and the use of only a single microphone. Cothran’s latest, New Alhambra, still hews to a lo-fi aesthetic, but the Asheville, N.C., songwriter — along with his bandmate and fiancée Delaney Mills — presents Elvis Depressedly’s most polished and affecting work yet.
The album’s title track sets the scene with a staticky snippet of a man chanting “Forever!” amid noisy cheers — a clip that sounds lifted from an old TV broadcast or a decaying VHS tape left out in the sun. Considering that the title name-drops a South Philadelphia arena that frequently hosted professional wrestling, that eerie, echoing crowd noise serves as a perfect mood-altering intro for a reflective pop song that ruminates on the past. “Break these wild horses, I have wasted my whole life / Cavities caving to numbness, I am never going to die,” Cothran sings amid a swirl of shimmering synth textures and an icy drum-machine beat. Grappling with pain, religion and love, “New Alhambra” is the sound of an artist in search of happiness and deeper meaning.