Album Review: “Life in the 21st Century”

By Carolina Garibay

New. Refreshing. Needed. Among several others, these are a few words that Champaign-Urbana based band Elsinore’s new album, “A Life in the 21st Century,” encompasses. In 40 minutes, Elsinore shares with listeners an in-depth critique of society, exploring feelings and emotions human beings experience daily. Elsinore plays with a variety of sounds, borrowing characteristics from different genres and adding their own twist on them to create a distinct sound and a cohesive album.

The album begins on a strong note with “How Could You…?” which immediately grabs your attention, letting you know Elsinore is not playing around with this album. This song exudes nostalgia, and you can’t help but think about those summer nights where you were hanging out with friends, unable to stop laughing about a stupid joke one of you made. It sounds familiar yet new and unlike anything else at the same time.

In “Turn It On,” Elsinore reveals their classic rock side, introducing the song with heavy drums and guitar. The vocals on the verses follow the rock theme, sounding like a mix of singing and light screaming that wouldn’t work if this song didn’t have the heavy drums and guitar to accompany the vocals. The song’s chorus is the strongest part of “Turn It On” and will definitely be stuck in your head after you hear this song, which is not a bad thing at all.

At first listen, “The Human Condition” sounds like a feel-good song, but once the lyrics sink in, you’ll discover that Elsinore is actually critiquing society in this song. The true meaning of “The Human Condition” is at first masked by the fast, upbeat music, mirroring the common practice of ignoring or covering up society’s flaws. After looking deeper into society, however, listeners will find, as Elsinore says in the song, “we’re wired to take what we want, and we hate when we can’t,” and “everything you want is half of what you need.”

“Everybody Knows” takes a step back from the fast-paced nature of the first few songs, with the vocals almost sounding like a whisper that can’t help but slow down your mind for a second. The song catches the listener off-guard though, picking up abruptly and giving listeners the dramatic peak that they were hoping for.

“O” was first released as a single and takes on a more chill, acoustic vibe, which is slightly underwhelming following a series of more hard-core songs. “Pressure Points” was another one of Elsinore’s weak spots on this album, not living up to the strength of the earlier songs.

Elsinore redeems themselves with “This Heart Gets Lonely,” a statement many people can probably relate to. The song’s echoing vocals in its introduction add a new layer to the song, and as the song builds, the echo effect fades, and the song takes on a more rock vibe, similar to “Turn It On.” The song’s transition from soft to more intense could parallel the feelings people feel when wondering why they can’t be with a certain person. Elsinore sings, “Don’t we belong together?” and “I just can’t stand the thought of being alone” in the chorus, thoughts that anyone who has ever felt lonely before can probably relate to.

In “Leave Behind a City Life,” Elsinore urges someone to leave behind a toxic life and find a better one. Though the song sounds as if it’s directed towards a specific person, Elsinore could be talking to any listeners who might be living a dangerous life, advising them to “leave behind a city life, all the lights and the sound.”

“Walking Around at Night” and “Resolution 9” conclude the album on a strong note, with “Walking Around at Night” being more upbeat and “Resolution 9” being more chill and exuding a mysterious and ominous vibe. We don’t exactly get that energetic, lively ending that many of the other songs had with “Resolution 9,” but as established early on in this album, Elsinore doesn’t seem to be too concerned with following any types of rules.