Chelsey Cope’s new band, Elms, is as earthy and native to Oklahoma as the trees that are their namesake. The soulful folk four-piece’s debut EP, Parallel Lines, was recorded at Bell Labs Recording Studio in Norman and is on its way in September. But the band has already given us a tease, with its first single, “Burn,” going live on SoundCloud on July 14.
The resemblance is eerie at first: Rami Vierula’s easy-going, high-pitched keen echoes Gibbard’s, while the band’s dreamy soundscapes within indie-pop structures call up comparisons to both “The Photo Album” and “Codes and Keys.”
But the aesthetic distance that Pitchfork blasted in their review of “Codes” and I noted in passing is not present here. These songs sound grounded and intimate, despite their tightly constructed arrangements. Delay Trees’ greatest accomplishment is the fact that the appealing little cottage somehow contains a mansion inside it without losing the perks of either.
It helps that the melodies are immediate and Velcro-lined. The group bakes the cake and then melts candy bars on top of it. “About Brothers” has a beautiful “whoa-oh” section that is only trumped by the shiver-inducing one in “Tarantula/Holding On.” You know when bands try to force epic things into otherwise normal songs? That’s not what Delay Trees is about. They painstakingly build their tunes, and the payoffs are all the more great because of it (“Whales and Colors,” “In February”).
But they pass the pop-song test as well: I woke up this morning with the verse melody from “Cassette 2012” in my head. It’s an incredibly pleasant way to wake up.
Delay Trees has constructed a beautiful album that should not be missed by those who love indie pop or the mellowed side of indie rock. I foresee myself spinning this many more times this year, as it is at least equal, if not better than Death Cab’s latest. —Stephen Carradini