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The New Essex Green Sounds Just Like the Old Essex Green

Elephant 6 associates the Essex Green return today with a new single, “Sloane Ranger,” and news of a fourth album, Hardly Electronic. It’s their first new music since 2006’s Cannibal Sea, an album that only I (and no one else on the Spin staff) fondly recall as the home of chipper, indelible indie pop songs like “Don’t Know Why (You Stay)” and “Rue de Lis.” (Do you remember what the music internet was like in 2006? You could download an MP3 of “Don’t Know Why” from Salon.com, for some reason.) For those of us who’ve waited 12 years for to hear from Jeff Baron, Chris Ziter, and Sasha Bell again, “Sloane Ranger” will more than fit the bill: the sunny ’60s-inspired melodies, perfectly sloppy rhythm guitar, singalong harmonies, and buoyant, handclap-friendly beat are all back too.

Where have the members of Essex Green been all this time? According to a Merge Records press release, they’ve been trying to “chase down their separate dreams: Jeff to build a houseboat and navigate the mighty Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers; Christopher to return to his home state of Vermont and lead local fermentation efforts; and Sasha to decamp to Montana to study elk rutting.” Yes, elk rutting means elk mating, and the band might be pulling our collective leg—though Bell does live in Montana, and loves it, according to this 2016 PopMatters interview on the Essex Green’s slow path to reunion. As you might expect, family obligations, non-music careers, and writer’s block appear to be the real culprits.

Hardly Electronic is out June 29 from Merge, and the Essex Green will tour the East Coast this August. Listen to “Sloane Ranger” below.