Hamilton, Ontario, Canada-based indie rock outfit Ellevator — currently Nabi Sue Bersche (vocals), Tyler Bersche (guitar) and Elliott Gwynne (bass, synths) — have received attention in their native Canada and elsewhere for a developing and honing a sound and approach that draws from late-aughts guitar music, post-rock, U2, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Feist, Spoon and Death Cab for Cutie paired with lean, razor sharp hooks, sweeping crescendos and Bersche’s sultry, pop star vocals singing increasingly earnest lyrics, which thematically touch upon power, love and loss from deeply lived-in, personal reflections and experiences.
Ellevator’s 2018 self-titled EP amassed over a million streams across the digital streaming platforms. Adding to a growing profile. the band toured across North America with the likes of Our Lady Peace, Matthew Good, BANNERS, Cold War Kids, JOVM mainstay Rich Aucoin, Dear Rouge, Bishop Briggs, Arkells and Amber Run.
The Hamilton-based outfit’s long-awaited, full-length debut, the Chris Walla-produced The Words You Spoke Still Move Me is slated for a May 6, 2022 release through Arts & Crafts. The 12-song album reportedly see the band documenting universal experiences like existential longing, romantic power struggles, the never-ending work of true self-discovery and the personal and highly specific – in particular, Nabi Sub Bersche’s experiences entering into and escaping a religious cult.
Late last year, I wrote about The Words You Spoke Still Move Me‘s first single, “Easy,” a song that revealed a band that not only making a bold decided step forward in their sound and approach, but a band embracing that they’re a rock band with the band balancing deliberate craftsmanship, earnest and lived-in lyrics, enormous hooks and raw and passionate performances with a slick studio polish in a way that reminded me of 80s pop and Deep Sea Diver‘s impressive Impossible Weight.
“Easy” draws directly from Nabi Sue Bershe’s life: For a period of her life, the Ellevator frontwoman was a member of a religious cult, and the song is a rumination on the good and evil things we are raised to believe without question. “I was raised in the world of charismatic Christianity – an offshoot of Pentecostalism,” Ellevator’s Nabi Sue Bersche explained. “God was magic and prophetic ecstasies happened every Sunday. As a child, I spoke in tongues and prayed until my body swayed with a gentle force like wind knocking me backward. A deep and abiding love of the natural world took hold of me. I witnessed firsthand the wild power of music – how it could uplift, ensnare, console, inspire.
“When I was 17 I moved to the other side of the world and joined what would most accurately be described as a cult. I prayed for strangers I met in parking lots. I shut my eyes and read the dappled light between my lashes like tea leaves that could divine the future. Vulnerability was a badge in that community so I learned to overshare. Teachings were given in the language of freedom while the stiff hand of purity reduced my body to a shameful temptation. Growing up like that gave me a love of music, a nose for bullshit, and a lot to unravel. This song is about the good and evil things we are raised to believe. I was held captive by an ideology that severely limited my life and my perspective of the world around me. It’s a process I’m still in the middle of, this work of extraction.”
The album’s second and latest single “Sacred Heart” continues a run of slickly produced yet dramatic, radio rock with enormous, arena rock-like hooks, earnest and lived-in lyrics that to my ears brings John Mellencamp, Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks” and Stevie Nicks to mind, thanks in part to an expansive arrangement featuring slashing power chords, twinkling keys, and Nabi Sue Bersche’s yearning and plaintive vocals. At its core, the song details a swooning, young love in its guilelessness, passion, fearlessness and uncertainty. (From experience love — particularly young love — is all of that and then some.)
“This one’s a love song about how intimacy and deep knowing can make it feel like there’s nothing left to discover, and choosing to push on anyway in search of new depths, “Ellevator’s Nabi Sue Bersche explains. “Ty [Tyler Bersche] (guitar) and I got married on a cold spring morning when I was 22 and he was 19. There wasn’t much chance to sell each other on our own myths, to be the mysterious stranger from outta town: we wrote our origin story together. Learning to love each other better has been a strange journey and the great gift of my life.”
Directed and shot by Cam Veitch, the accompanying lyric video for “Sacred Heart” features intimately shot footage of the band playing the song live. “We shot, edited, and delivered the whole thing in less than 24 hrs,” Nabi Sue Bersche adds. “We’ve made a bunch of videos that I’m proud of but this one touches something special: we wanted to show what it feels like to play live as Ellevator, in all its sublime chaos, and I think we captured the lightning.”
North American dates
Mar 17 | SXSW, Austin, TX @ Esther’s Follies (12am – 12:40am CT)
Mar 22 | Nashville, TN @ The End
Mar 24 | Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
Mar 25 | Richmond, VA @ Richmond Music Hall
Mar 26 | Washington, DC @ Pie Shop
Mar 27 | Philadelphia, PA @ Silk City
Mar 29 | New York City, NY @ Berlin
May 18 | Ottawa, ON @ Rainbow Room
May 19 | Montreal, QC @ Le Ritz
May 20 | Oshawa, ON @ Stage 44
May 21 | Guelph, ON @ Onyx
May 25 | St. Catherines, ON @ Warehouse
May 26 | London, ON @ Rum Runners
May 27 | Hamilton, ON @ Bridgeworks
May 28 | Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe