Published Sep 01, 2020Toronto musician Paul Erlichman thrives in the underbelly of the music industry, exploring sounds that have evolved in response to, with an indifference to, or even in spite of more commercial, consumer-driven music. His résumé includes Goosebump and Ducks Unlimited, and he also previously released Young, Healthy, and Wonderful under his current moniker of Elrichman. On Heaven's Mayor, Erlichman is joined by like-minded talent from Fucked Up, Hooded Fang, Alvvays, Weaves and Twisted Pine.
Erlichman's other projects, as well as those of his current collaborators, are all unique and idiosyncratic in different ways, but Heaven's Mayor is possibly the purist expression of his fiercely independent sensibility. Throughout Heaven's Mayor, the music keeps setting out on a path of '80s indie and jangle rock but then it turns sharply anytime it runs the risk of becoming catchy. Earlier avant-garde and later experimental influences push up from underneath to accompany a faint breeze of futuristic jazz.
The intentionally overblown orchestral arrangements on the opening track, "Cop on a Horse," make it simultaneously beautiful and jarring. "On the Nose" features stunning flute by Anh Phung of Twisted Pine. "Seeking Grey Skies" is somewhat reminiscent of Boney M. Of course, the lyrics for "I Mostly Consume" are consistent with the theme of consumerism, and then "Burn It All Down" laments, "If you can afford it, it is nice to drift away, and if you can't afford it, I hope you can anyway." Elrichman's endearing and straightforward lyrical sensibility sets off any possibility of pretentiousness.
This is the interesting work of skilled musicians, and listeners can appreciate it for what it is, not for measurement with any preconceived notions of what it should be. (Bobo Integral)