ELVIS PERKINS has dropped a beautiful papercut video for “See Monkey”, a brilliantly wry, songwriting auteur cut from his latest album, Creation Myths, which you can watch below.
“See Monkey” is a confection of mournful brass announcements, piano with the pacing of Father John Misty or just-solo Lennon, over which Elvis sets about with gnomic, cosmic observation: “You can leave your shoes in the riverbank … you can laugh yourself to tears if you want to, my love.” An Eastern tinged middle eight leads back to brass grace. The overall feel is very Nilsson: piano-led tunesmithery with gnomic lyricism and bite.
“You can spend your time with a sea monkey / And expect nothing in return,” he advises. It’s excellently cosmic pop.
He says of the track that it’s an “everything’s gonna be alright sort of song, a ‘we’re all only returning to the source’ sort of song, from the monkey that is me to the monkey that is you.”
Shwalami is the creative team behind the accompanying video: a collaborative art-making system created by artists and lifelong friends Joshua Levy and Greg Wilk. It has this lovely aesthetic combed from Fifties and Sixties’ inkie magazines, with fantastical beings about strange business.
Elvis says that the “first thing that comes to mind regarding the ‘See Monkey’ video is, somehow, the leitmotif from Robocop: ‘I’d buy that for a dollar.’”
“The good Shwalami people have updated the snake oil hock for the present day: ‘All your eyes can eat for no dollars at all.’”
In order to create Creation Myths, Elvis’s fifth album and his first full-length venture since his 2017 soundtrack The Blackcoat’s Daughter, he reached into his notebooks, dusting down fragments of ideas, unfinished tunes, sketches forgotten; and decided to finally record the best, some of which had been awaiting his attention for the better part of two decades.
“I’ve carried them with me since their genesis,” he says, “and I’ve always suspected that they would be documented at some point; but you never know when you’re gonna have that window, when it will finally feel like the right time.”
Creation Myths treads with a light and knowing step through the hinterlands of folk and Americana, with each song receiving the styling and finesse it needs.
We looked at the lovely and haunting previous single “See Through” here, and said of it: “It’s at once rooted in a world of Brunswick Records 7”s with triangular pushouts and yellowed, dogeared sleeves, and utterly modern in its lyrical concerns: the self-satisfying bubbles of media interaction we have come to live in, gone see-through to each other.
Elvis says: “Sometimes you do the best things when you don’t know what you’re doing yet.
“I called this record Creation Myths because, in a way, I really don’t know how these songs came into being. So they are the explanation of themselves.”
Creation Myths is available now from MIR/Petaluma Records on digital, CD and vinyl formats; you can order yours here.