It doesn’t take too many spins to hear that something very different is happening on The Wishes And The Glitch, the fifth record from Say Hi principle Eric Elbogen. Yes, the dry sense of humor is never far, but gone are the persistent musings about robots and vampires, replaced here instead by a complicated mapping of the post-twenty something psyche, by the slow implosion of someone who fell out of love with everything he once held dear and who attempts to muster just enough gumption to get back and begin something fresh. Wishes discards the fictional protagonists that adorn Elbogen’s previous records. It offers up something entirely more wholesome, a glimpse into the songwriter’s disappointments and excitement at new prospects. It makes sense, in light of this, that he would present this record with the truncated band name (Say Hi is the former Say Hi To Your Mom), choosing to discard the perceived teenage potty humor and suggest something more universal, simple and personal: a salutation to things new.
It’s among the washy guitars and jittery synths that the backstory unfolds, via a voice that, once whispered, is now lifted and gut-sung. With this we learn of Elbogen’s relocation from his Brooklyn home of seven years to the faraway Seattle, Washington and the necessary dismantling of relationships (both professional and personal) that resulted. In songs like “Northwestern Girls,” he considers in awe his new surroundings and pleads with himself to not sabotage his new life like he’s done in the past. Elsewhere, as in “Back Before We Were Brittle,” he fights the impulse for nostalgia and calculates carefully the prescription for doing so. And then there are songs like “Zero To Love,” where a futurist utopia means happiness is permanent, and “Apples For The Innocent,” in which the post-coitus conundrum is dissected for consideration by all.
It would be unfair to discuss thematic content alone, however, because any song, despite its wit, is only as good as the accompanying hooks. But Wishes doesn’t lack in that department either. The barrage of indie-pop songs that fill the record’s thirty-six minutes are musically richer than anything Elbogen has done before. Keyboards chime and swoosh, drums bump, basslines wiggle and vocal melodies shoot and fall, converging at the expected intersections some places and surprising with new tangents others. And while the intimacy is never lost, the songs sound big, classically anthemic even.
Say Hi was founded in Brooklyn, NY in late 2002, as was Euphobia Records, a label started by Elbogen to facilitate the release of that year’s Discosadness LP. Three more records followed over the next few years (2004’s Numbers & Mumbles, 2005’s Ferocious Mopes and 2006’s Impeccable Blahs). Immediately after relocating to Seattle, Elbogen wrote and recorded The Wihses And The Glitch at his home studio over the bulk of 2007. And yes, his studio inhabits the same room he sleeps in. Touring keyboardist / vocalist Nouela Johnston (the touring line-up for Say Hi is ever-evolving) contributed vocals on three of the songs. The Long Winters’ John Roderick and Pedro The Lion / Headphones’ David Bazan also sing on a track each. Everything else was performed by Elbogen, himself.
Having toured non-stop since the beginning, Say Hi has shared the stage with the likes of Nada Surf, The Wrens, Mates of State, Pinback, Headphones, the Long Winters, American Analog Set, Bishop Allen, +/-, John Vanderslice and Menomena, among many others. The band has no plans to curb its busy show schedule and will tour relentlessly throughout 2008 in support of The Wishes And The Glitch. Euphobia Records and the entire Say Hi catalog are distributed by ADA via an exclusive agreement with New York’s The Rebel Group. The band is booked by the Kork Agency.