I’m really not that much into faith or Christianity. Nevertheless, I was very curious about checking out what critically acclaimed Christian power pop sounded like. I listened to The Elms’ debut album The Big Surprise (2001) and, like basically everything I listen to these days, it was a success.
The Elms have come up with some very traditional pop-rock here. There is energy and a suitable dose of power pop angst in this material. Very fine string arrangements also highlight some of the songs, like the wonderful Here’s My Hand and the dramatic title track The Big Surprise. Songwriter Owen Thomas sings lead, and I really like his voice. It’s suitable for both pop punk-ish songs like Hey, Hey and pretty slow songs like You Get Me Every Time. At times Owen Thomas really sounds like Jon Rubin! (Guess who is one of my favourite singers…)
The lyrics contain general musings on life. I’m quite happy that there aren’t many songs about God-related things on this album but there are a few, though. To be honest, I’m not really that much of a lyrics person. I really don’t tend to listen to lyrics. So it actually doesn’t matter what the lyrics are about... Or even if they're good or not. Despite this, I always at some point try to concentrate on the lyrics so that I know what the music is generally about. Sometimes the subject is very easy to hear right away, especially if the singer's pronunciation is clear.
The Big Surprise (and the band’s next album, too) was released by a gospel label EMI/Sparrow. Since then, The Elms have changed their label and don’t focus on spiritual subjects anymore. They seem to be quite popular these days and they are about to release their fourth album soon. I should check out their more recent material some day.
The Elms at MySpace