Elgin: Weightless/Still review – A serious reinvention

Dublin duo formerly of The Young Folk marry calm music and weighty words

    
Artist: Elgin
Genre: Alternative
Label: Pixie Pace Records

Dublin duo Elgin are no newcomers, having had previous form in The Young Folk, a boisterous roots-pop outfit that, to their increasing frustration, was lumbered as much with the “folk” as the “young” tag.

Anthony Furey and Paul Butler have taken their new name from a small town 40km from Austin, Texas. They used 2020 as a means to forge a different creative identity, and with their debut album (the title Weightless/Still is something of a thematic giveaway) they have done exactly that. In place of The Young Folk’s tried and tested material is textured music that is allowed to breathe without the dragging pressure of expectations.

The subject matter throughout is serious. Butler, the primary songwriter for the album, says that via bouts of extended sleep deprivation he was in the appropriately wrong frame of mind to deliver songs that he “felt uncomfortable talking about”. Cue tracks with, sonically, a featherlight touch but a focus on topics such as acute uncertainty, disquiet, setbacks and surprises that ranged from pleasant to unhelpful.

The music has a lucid and poised calm that balances the subject matter, while Butler’s turn of phrase (“You wanted a falcon, I gave you a finch ... I’ll be all right, just give me a minute,” he sings on Cherry Picked) is adept at identifying his personal shortcomings without labouring the point.

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in popular culture