Return to the Moon

EL VY - Return to the Moon
Critic Score
Based on 22 reviews
2015 Ratings: #268 / 770
User Score
Based on 94 ratings
2015 Ratings: #297
October 30, 2015 / Release Date
LP / Format
4AD / Label
Indie Rock / Genres
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A.V. Club

It turns out that the new something—EL VY—is more of a gentle pivot than a full-on reinvention, and that nobody should’ve worried at all: Return To The Moon is one of the best albums of 2015.

Loud and Quiet
This debut release provides an absorbing reprieve while never breaking totally free from current pessimisms. Berninger’s storytelling struts through the occasionally unnerving terrain of American suburbia with an illumined eye and wicked tongue, and with the help of Knopf’s pristine and protean arrangements it’s never sounded so good.
Under The Radar

All 11 tracks play like a series of scenic vignettes, almost like short films with a thematic through-line. Return to the Moon is a winning project, one that enlivens the careers of both artists involved.

The Skinny
Melodious and inventive, layered but not overly ornate: EL VY’s debut is too fully-formed to be dismissed as a side project.
EL VY could have been many things for Matt Berninger - in the end his first non-National album serves to take him away from firm rooting in gloom to a certain extent, but largely just exhibits him doing everything he does so well, just with a few tweaks and exceptions.
Together, EL VY create an enthralling musical space where Matt Berninger can explore the idea of being Matt Berninger.
The Line of Best Fit
It’s complex, witty, and - crucially - taps into a side of each man’s creativity in a manner hitherto unseen.
Drowned in Sound
The great strength of El Vy ... is that it brings forth both members’ strengths to create something that sounds like a proper polished debut from a 'real' band.
The Guardian

An off-duty experiment, a pressure-free hobby, more Broken Bells than McCartney and MJ.

The 405
This isn't a fully realised collaboration just yet, as there are a few filler tracks, but there is more than enough potential to suggest that if they get time and space to create more music together, EL VY could become more of a permanent project.

EL VY succeed in telling the stories of true characters on Return To The Moon, using inventive beats and fresh indie rock structures to make their tales connect.

Rolling Stone
He may not be Leonard Cohen, but in the absence of his longtime collaborators, Matt Berninger has never sounded more like himself.
Amid the wistfulness -- which gets heavy at times -- the record is persistently slinky and sometimes cheeky, so it stays clear of dreariness.
There are some bright and poignant moments here though, but, like the majority of The National’s work, the depths of the album may take a while to become apparent.

Return To The Moon is fully realised and offers plenty of intrigue, but the moments like this final one-two are sadly lacking: rarely do they sound like a unit, and surprisingly, Berninger is the one that ends up sounding a little lost.

Consequence of Sound

Return to the Moon is by no means an unenjoyable listen, but it lacks the excitement that would come from two brilliant musical minds trying something different.

Slant Magazine
Unable to adapt or innovate, Berninger seems surprisingly lost despite taking center stage, especially when compared to Knopf's consistently competent musical backing.

Too often ... Return to the Moon seems stuck in place. It’s as if Berninger and Knopf are too relaxed for their own good; the album feels more tossed off than anything else.


Return to the Moon is an unhappy departure, one that suggests that Berninger is as reliant on the National's luxe environments as they are on his all-the-wine sloganeering. And while there's nothing here that suggests Berninger and Knopf are truly incompatible, there's equally little evidence that Knopf's spirited arrangements are suited to Berninger's spotlight-gargling word soup.

This isn't as much of a 'happy Matt' album as I expected after first hearing the title track - sure Berninger sounds a little more relaxed and dare I say funky here, but generally he's still conveying that usual world weariness he likes.

When the peppier musical backing clicks with the vocals this is promising, it just doesn't really happen nearly enough.
As I’ve been working my way through the discography of The National, I’ve constantly come to the question of which is more important: consistency or evolution? Once The National made “Boxer,” it seems as though they sort of stagnated, making album after album that sounded much like what came before it. There’s are good albums, they just don’t try anything surprising or new from The National.

Now this wouldn’t be all that strange - a band finding a ... read more
Matt Berninger and Brent Knopf join their forces and, as EL VY, try to find a way to return to the moon with a melodic, indie-rock ticket that, for the moment, ensures them a place in the waiting list.
Pretty poor
Fav Tracks: Return to the Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloome to Sing, With Crescendo), No Time to Crank the Sun
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Track List

  1. Return to the Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloome to Sing, With Crescendo)
  2. I'm the Man to Be
  3. Paul Is Alive
  4. Need A Friend
  5. Silent Ivy Hotel 
  6. No Time to Crank the Sun
  7. It's a Game
  8. Sleepin' Light (ft. Ural Thomas)
  9. Sad Case
  10. Happiness, Missouri
  11. Careless
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Added on: August 4, 2015