If Elliott Smith was the front-man for your band, they’d surely sound like Earlimart’s bag of introspective indie pop bliss. On their follow-up to 2004’s critically acclaimed Treble & Tremble, L.A.’s Earlimart revamp their ELO meets west coast indie on Mentor Tormentor. Funny that although Grandaddy’s Jim Fairchild has since left the band, Earlimart still carries that sound, courtesy of leader Aaron Espinoza. But where Grandaddy focused generally on isolation in a high-tech world, Espinoza dwells on the rainy day pop of love and loss.
The opener “Fakey Fake” rises with ethereal vocals and tribal beats, while “Answers and Questions” is right out of the pop catalog of Jeff Lynne. “Happy Alone," sung by Ariana Murray, loads an Aimee Mann sensitive voice next to Espinoza, adding to the room of chamber pianos and strings The rock numbers are hardly heavy, as “70>100” and “Everybody Knows Everybody” almost feel out of place here. But give the 70’s hooks of “ Gonna Break into Your Heart” a chance and Mentor Tormentor demands repeat listens, aside from the cheesy choral closer “Cold Cold Heaven.”
Fans of the west coast indie pop, championed by Elliott Smith will adore Earliamart, while confused newbies will find Mentor Tormentor not your average first listen, which is a good thing.