It’s been two years since we first heard As Elephants Are’s infectious debut single War Cry an we never lost sight of the band since. It wasn’t hard to guess that these guys drew their influences from acts such as The Maccabees, Bombay Bicycle Club or Two Door Cinema Club.
As Elephants are were formed in High Wycombe, a town I frequently drove through to get from Oxford to Luton Airport, in 2011 after Ben Stratford (vocals/guitar) and Harry Roche (bass) had to collaborate on the writing and recording of music for their college music course. Realising that there was no one else like-minded on the course they recruited an old school friend each in Joe Miller (guitar) and Rob Waters (drums) to complete the recording line up.
Following the singles Youth Blood/Lucifer and Crystal, the band have now released their long anticipated debut EP Hand Prints. Kicking off with the lead track is becomes clear that As Elephants Are have matured quite a bit since their first musical output. The production is thorough, doing Stratford’s vocals justice and is filled with all the proper ingredients of a great pop rock song: catchy guitar riffs, progression, a sing-along chorus and, this is the icing on the cake, a trumpet. I’m certain this track will do well on the radio and will shake some legs at your favourite disco.
Kingdom slows things down a bit and adds more synths to the mix. It’s a song ladden with teenage romanticism and escapism as Stratford sings: “Let’s live inside our heads tonight and let the demons out this time / this could be our kingdom / You know, you’re not alone.” As cheesy as that may sound you can’t really blame them for writing such incredibly infectious pop music. These guys have a knack for bridges too. The transition takes the song to a whole new level “When you feel like the fear is gone / Can you shake, can you shake it off / can you shake shake shake hey“. Granted there is a bit of Florence & The Machine and The Sounds there, I can’t see how anyone wouldn’t sing along at this point.
Souls is the obligatory ballad written in minor. Unfortunately, the track is quite monotonous unlike the rest of the EP making it its weakest track. The vocals seem a bit forced as Stratford sings “Souls, you’ll be the one to save our souls” over and over again which is about everything that happens over the course of its 3:28 minutes running time. Don’t get me wrong, Souls isn’t a terrible song but compared to the rest of the EP it borders on mediocrity. Went Wrong is more like it, this is how you write a proper power ballad. Again, the bridge does a lot to build the song up to the grand finale.
Despite its minor weaknesses, Hand Prints is a great debut. Tracks such as Hand Prints and Kingdom show that this band is literally destined to take festival stages and radio stations alike (in the UK anyway). These guys have such a good hand for writing tremendously catchy pop tunes, their prints will be all over the place in no time making it easy to cut them slack them for the odd not as good song.
Hand Prints is available as of now via Once Upon A Time Records and can be streamed in its entirety below.