Sound: Biting Elbows is an idiom in Russian that pretty much means kicking yourself. Like you made a terrible decision and you're just beating yourself up over it. This self-titled debut album, however, is far from a mistake. While I didn't like the sound of calling their style indie-punk I've decided it's the only thing you can really call it. Reminiscent of Arctic Monkeys at times, Biting Elbows has this undeniable groove and rhythm that sits comfortably on their punk attitude.
Ilya Naishuller's voice has this distinctive timber to it. Somewhat nasally but not too forward and punk as all hell, especially when he goes for those notes with some grit. Better yet, his expressive range is amazing. Smooth and sly, pissed off and indignant, horny and sleazy. Hell, he covers a lot.
Guitar work isn't anything to overlook either. "Angleton" starts off with this funky kinda but dips into punk as many of their songs on this album do. You can hear the kind of ska influences in their music too. Nuanced and dynamic, the guitar work does every song well.
The bass is honestly one the most often overlooked parts in a band and I cannot stress this enough. DO NOT SLEEP ON THE BASS TRACKS FOR THIS ALBUM. Whether we're talking about "One Night in '99," "Who Am I to Stand Still," or just about any other damn track in this album, listen to the bass and I guarantee you will appreciate it.
Drums are played appropriately for every track. Alex Zamarev lays it down on every track, especially "City of No Palms." Hell, just stop reading this review and listen to it yourself.
These guys cover a lot of different sounds in this one album; from desert rock to jazz, funk, ska, but their unique punk vibe is what really shines in this album. // 10
Lyrics: The subject matter of these songs, more than anything, are stories. If you pay close attention you hear stories about the man who founded the CIA and got backstabbed, a whistleblower, a horny dude, a man losing the love of his life to some disease. Whatever the story, Ilya tells it with conviction and originality.
Naishuller's voice blends in perfectly with the musical backdrop of Biting Elbows. But, more impressive is the delivery.
In all honesty the first few months of listening to this album proved to be a mess as I didn't understand nearly a damn word Naishuller said. Maybe it was my inexperienced ear or Naishuller's Russian inflection, or mixing. I had a hard time. But once I got past that, I truly appreciated the lyrics "Biting Elbows" had to offer.
With memorable one liner's like "I love the scenery, but hate the faces," "No hay nada mala cuando no nada" it's hard not to remember this album. // 10
Overall Impression: 30 minutes of pure badassedness. If you can only listen to a few songs you must listen to:
- City of No Palms
- Who Am I to Stand Still
- World's Most Important Something
Almost six years have passed since this album's release in January 2011. Biting Elbows have been on a hiatus for quite some time but in all that time I always found myself coming back this album ever since I first heard it in the summer of 2013. The album has an enduring sound that never gets stale and always manages to please with every listen.
This album, for me, signaled the rebirth of music for me. It was the first full album from a band I liked all the way through since I was a little 6 year old kid. It really did open my eyes to music in a different way. For that, I'd say it's perfect album. // 10