EL VY (pronounced like a plural of Elvis; rhymes with ‘hell pie’) is the musical collaboration between Matt Berninger, vocalist and lyricist of The National, and Brent Knopf, the Portland musician and producer best known for his work in Menomena and his more recent band, Ramona Falls. Their debut album Return To The Moon will be released on October 30th via 4AD.
The album is a project Berninger and Knopf have been thinking about for years. Their friendship spans nearly a decade, starting back when the National and Menomena played small halfempty clubs along America’s west coast. Feeling an immediate musical kinship, the pair kept in touch, Brent sending Matt occasional rough sketches of music and Matt responding with melodies and lyrics. Finally, in the winter and spring of 2014-115, they actually got together to make an album.
Return to the Moon sounds exactly like you'd hope a collaboration between these artists would: Berninger's darkly funny, lyrical storytelling and his immediately identifiable sense of melody offset by Knopf's playful, architectural arrangements and inventive production. Knopf explains, “I never worried about sending Matt something unfinished. He’s able to imagine where it can go. He can grab the four bars that will become the core of the track and develop them into something amazing.”
The National and Ramona Falls are both currently preparing upcoming releases, so EL VY is not a replacement or a side project, but a glimpse into an alternate musical universe: a universe in which Berninger never left Cincinnati, and Midwestern punk Mecca the Jockey Club never closed. A universe in which Mike Watt and the late D. Boon of the punk band Minutemen are every bit as iconic as Mick and Keith, and a teenager's sense of rebellion is fed by the dark social politics of middle America.
“This record is more autobiographical than anything else I’ve written,” says Berninger, “but the details aren’t true. It’s written in the voices of a few invented characters, composites of different people – myself, my wife, and other people I was thinking about.”