It’s been a dozen years since a new Essex Green album graced the Earth, which is a loss for anyone who loves ’60s-inspired Psych Pop with boy/girl vocals and literate lyrics. What have the formerly-Brooklyn-headquartered trio —singer/multi-instrumentalist Sasha Bell, singer/guitarist Jeff Baron and guitarist Christopher Ziter — been doing in the interim? Bell had a daughter and eventually moved to Montana. Ziter headed back to his native Vermont where he married and had a child of his own. Baron moved to Pittsburgh where he built a houseboat and partook in trips down various rivers before moving back to Vermont as well.
The hiatus was hardest on Bell. She couldn’t help but write songs, which she eventually intended to put out on her own after a successful Kickstarter campaign. But, inevitably, the trio reconnected in fits and starts — Bell still lives in Montana — and began playing together again.
The resulting album, Hardly Electronic, features 14 impeccably crafted Pop Rock songs that lean heavy on the band’s past as members of Indie Pop collective Elephant Six, while also moving into new, slightly more baroque territory.
“Some of my songs are odd or dark or different in ways I haven’t heard before on other Essex Green records,” Bell told PopMatters in 2016, back when the band first reconvened. “I love singing, and actually I think my voice is stronger now than it’s ever been, and I’m happy with that. I think we’re better musicians and I think it’s gonna show. That’s one of the major things I’ve come to realize about this new record: We’re older, wiser and stronger.”