The Essex Green was once part of the now-defunct Elephant 6 Recording Company, a group of psychedelic late-'90s bands halfway between a collective and a bona fide label. The Elephant 6 bands had weird, slightly unhinged names (Olivia Tremor Control, Apples in Stereo) and wrote songs that were practically temples to Brian Wilson's sweetly harmonic multi-tracked pop. Most of Elephant 6's members are on an extended Wilsonesque hiatus (like the long-lost Neutral Milk Hotel) or have beaten their signature sound to death (as with the flat, twee Of Montreal), so it's refreshing to see that the Essex Green (whose members also moonlight in the Ladybug Transistor) hasn't just survived, it's actually growing.
Once the most pastoral and straitlaced of the Elephant 6 groups, the Green's new album The Long Goodbye takes some welcome steps past the folksy textures of its earlier albums. A few tracks still sound like the Beachwood Sparks, with flutes wafting through shuffling songs about days at the sea, but the group has livened up Goodbye with more organ vamps and fuzzed-out rockers like "The Late Great Cassiopeia." Plus, singer Sasha Bell has a sexy, deadpan delivery that keeps cutesiness from overwhelming the Green's songs. So even if the band lacks the full-on psychedelic sound of some of its former Elephant 6 cohorts, the Essex Green has an intimate charm that ensures it won't be going the way of the wooly mammoth anytime soon.