Elephant Stone’s self-titled sophomore album has been three years in the making, and while the hindi-pop sound that the band is known for is still present, things have changed. Elephant Stone indulges in a more grown-up sound. It’s not darker or even edgier; it’s just more refined with a clearer message of who Elephant Stone is as a band. Spirituality seems to be a running theme, either literally in the lyrics (“I do not know how to follow my soul” or “Must we wait for a brighter day/When all our sins are washed away”) or in the vibe of the sweeping sitar and guitar lines that are present in much of the latter half of the album.
The record as a whole has a distinct direction, but there are two divisible sections: pre- and post-sitar. Elephant Stone opens with “Setting Sun” and, the album’s first single, “Heavy Moon,” a pair of songs that while still spiritually inspired, definitely adopt a more rock quality. Guitarist Gabriel Lambert embraces this thoroughly on “Setting Sun,” ripping out some killer riffs that wouldn’t be out of place on an early Oasis album.
“A Silent Moment” is the track that shakes things up a bit. Arriving five songs into the album, this is the first that has a distinct hindi-pop feel. There is something incredibly cinematic about this song, with the rich and cascading sitar and guitar lines hovering above the guttural chants of guest artist Vinay Bhide, causing a simultaneously stimulating and relaxing moment. This five-minute nugget of a song is what Elephant Stone is all about—finding the beauty in a perfectly psychedelic mix of traditional Indian music and ’60s-inspired pop-rock.
The second half of the album gives a bit more free rein to the sitar with tracks “Sally Go Round The Sun” and “The Sea Of Your Mind” both offering up extended instrumentals in which singer and sitar player Rishi Dhir is able to showcase his chops. The four-minute trippy jam session at the end of “The Sea Of Your Mind” can get a little overwhelming, but in true ’60s fashion, if you just zone out and let your mind wander, you will get through it relatively unscathed.
Album closer “The Sacred Sound” provides a wonderful relief after “The Sea Of Your Mind,” though it is probably the track that is the least cohesive with the rest of the album. There are some very Sondre Lerche-reminiscent strings going on that, while beautiful, head in a different direction—more orchestral and less acid house. But Dhir’s muted, watery vocals guide the song back on track.
Dhir told CMJ last year that he didn’t want the sound to be “one-dimensional,” and if that was the ultimate goal, he met it. Elephant Stone is a thoughtful and concise album that showcases not only precise musicianship from all members of the band but a distinct growth in songwriting.