While Seattle-based singer-songwriter Eric Elbogen, who records as Say Hi, is an unabashed curmudgeon — two of his previous albums were called Ferocious Mopes and Impeccable Blahs — he’s a loveable one. And on his sixth album, Um, Uh Oh (out January 25), and its first official song, “Devils,” he continues to explore failure in love and life, teetering on the edge of utter despair, but with a smirk on his face. Download the track below.
“The album is about being a 33-year-old musician, and the joys and difficulties that it involves,” Elbogen tells SPIN about Um, Uh Oh. “When I look at other people my age that I’ve known from high school or from college, and I compare the two lifestyles, it’s interesting and sometimes times frustrating. And the constant, consistent failing relationships with the people who play in my band — it starts to wear you down.”
Specifically, on “Devils,” Elbogen sings about trying to make it back out of the darkness, even though the Devil’s got his address, is hiding out in his car, and invading his head. “That song is about being right on the edge of not being able to turn back from just being a bitter, grumpy, lonely, depressed old man,” he says. “I like to make these really serious songs with overarching heavy themes that are just slightly ridiculous.”
Sonically, Um, Uh Oh finds Elbogen moving from some of the keyboard-heavy arrangements of his previous work to a more straightforward rock’n’roll sound, with clear-sounding guitar riffs and thick, confident drumming. “I’m having a personal revival of old Stones, and Springsteen, and Tom Petty,” he says. “There’s definitely a handful of current indie rock bands that are enjoyable to me, but in comparison to my taste in music over the past decade, I find myself getting less and less stimulated by current pop music.”
While he gears up for the album release in the waning months of 2010 — “Normally, this time of year I’m like really depressed that I don’t make people’s top 10 lists,” he quips — Elbogen will assemble a touring version of Say Hi, and is considering becoming a singing drummer this time around after teaching himself the drums this year, and being inspired by fellow Seattleite Michael Benjamin Lerner of Telekinesis, who also mixes frontman duties with work behind the kit.
Say Hi, “Devils”(DOWNLOAD MP3)