ELMS is the name under which Peterborough, ON-based Alex Unger has quietly released a string of cassette EPs since 2013, most of which fall under the general rubrics of electronic pop. On Integrity, he fully embraces the gloomier and more ruminative undercurrents in his previous work, and displays a greatly improved sense of sound design, making it his most fully realized tape to date.
Unger's vocal style will likely be divisive among listeners. He is baroque, almost operatic in his delivery, and his lyrics are laced with opulent imagery and symbolism. But on Integrity, it comes off as authentic, not affected.
Rich synth layering and sharp arpeggiations swirl beneath Unger's vocals, and he strikes a neat balance between clean, pure synth tones and distorted, squelchy resonances. Even listeners that prefer to pass on Unger's highly emotive singing will likely linger to appreciate some of the full-bodied tones underneath it.
Poignant closing track "Strangers," on which Unger indistinguishably weaves his crooning voice with a wandering synthesizer line while telling a story of adultery, is a highlight, and leaves one keen to hear what ELMS does next. (Independent)