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Aylesbury pop wranglers As Elephants Are offer a trembling take on contemporary pop rhythms and harmonies, that’ll ripen your soul to the point of bursting, before ripping it out altogether.

It’s a case of smack, bang, and wallop. The grounding effects of As Elephants Are’s latest EP ‘Hand Prints’ are instantaneous from the dream-pop four-piece. With a miss-match juxtaposition of twinkling indie guitars, and Morrissey-esque baritone that abridges the pop-rockabilly delightfulness of 1980s indie-rock, but flicks all of the absorbing harmonies of a modern day pop record.

With the artwork suggesting a contrast of colour and pallor, the core of the EP does much to support that very impression. Split in half, tracks ‘Hand Prints’ and ‘Kingdom’ paint a picture of more joyful times, compared to the sorrowing ‘Souls’, and aching ‘Went Wrong’. As vocalist Ben Stratford blunts his voice and bellows “Time ticks, yet feels slow”, the closing track ‘Went Wrong’ dulls a fragrant wistfulness of times and lovers gone by. The troubling vocal becomes lost in a crop of tantalising indie-breaks, as the track bleeds into melody.

The EP’s namesake and opening track ‘Hand Prints’ blossoms into a synthetic dance song, layering a vivid image of indie coyness, and reflections of happier times. Unlike other EP’s that slow cook the listener into submission, ‘Hand Prints takes you by the reins and doesn’t let go. Crumbling the barriers between audience and band, the stand out track ‘Kingdom’ leisurely tickles the abstract whilst holding on to the mainstream. A pop song thrown through a storm of indie colourings-in, and percussive spikiness.

Soulfully crafted, the emotional paradigms of the EP are carried throughout by the vocals of Stratford, who offers the pressing something different. An almost classic sounding baritone, that takes control in the happier tracks of the EP, willows on the sadder ones. Above all else, along with the shining guitar riffs and subtle harmonies, it keeps the arteries of what could have been a run-of-the-mill pop record from haemorrhaging into dullness.

Behind all the colour, the sharpness and the emotion, As Elephants Are’s ‘Hand Prints’ EP stands as a majestic warrior that has been through the very best of times, as well as the very worst of time. With a bright beginning, and barely and ending, the Aylesbury dream-pop foursome have much to be pleased with. Tight, progressive and instantly likeable, it’s a big thumbs up for an EP that fills you with life, before squeezing it all out again.

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