Review: EleventyFour – The Joy Imperative EP

EleventyFour’s The Joy Imperative EP is the musical equivalent of a faerie riding a unicorn over a magical rainbow into a land of lollipops, wishes, dreams, gumdrops and smiles. Like the Ewoks, EleventyFour has proved that she’s a force to be reckoned with however, unlike them, it’s when it comes to writing magical pop songs not fighting a war. Although we aren’t that informed on her powers in combat so half of that sentence is full of speculation. From songs about the kind of friends she has to stealing a forklift to an ditty about a foetus, this record shows that Eleventy is definitely cruising at a speed of more than “12 miles an hour”.

We first heard of EleventyFour when our contributor Sarah did a wee interview with her (which is here) and have been hooked ever since. Until now, we’ve only had the raw versions of these songs. We’ve been eagerly awaiting this release, along with her many fans, and we’re certainly anything but disappointed with it. Eleventy has the ability to bring the magic to every song.

It’s easier to go track-by-track with this review, so here goes:

The Friend Song is the lollipops in the magical land.

During recording, Eleventy put out a call to her fans to submit audio of themselves singing along to the song to be used in the version we here on the EP. There’s 18 “sing-a-longers” and EleventyFour herself asking us “what kind of friend are you?” in the chorus. She’s got troves of friends. Everything from artistic to dyslexic to allergic friends and even “friends whose friends have friends called Michael.” It’s melodious and hilarious. Because she writes songs like this, it’s not hard to see how she might just have that many friends.

Small Wonders is the wishes in the magical land.

Small Wonders tells the story of Giant and Eleventy (a tiny girl) going on a wonderful adventure of exploration. A dreamy, floaty and jazzy track, the song itself is the shortest on the record, coming-in at only 1:17. Full of wonderment and a story that never fails to remind me of something Roald Dahl would write.

Forklife is the dreams in the magical land.

Forklife is essentially song about a stolen forklift with an absolutely genius title. But, it’s actually a lovely story about doing nice things for people. We all know the effects of Karma, and Eleventy’s coming up trumps. Comparing herself to Robin Hood, Eleventy charts her journey in her stolen forklift (cruising at 12mph), eventually leading her to helping out a lady with her shopping. Simple and relatable, the story is one of the most charming on the EP.

Greetings Earthling is the gumdrops in the magical land.

In this ode to a foetus, Eleventy sings a darling ditty about how she already loves the unborn child. The cutest song on the EP by far, Eleventy’s lyricism shines through the bouncy melody. PCM’s favourite line is “I’ll meet you in December, oh. You’ll no longer be an embryo but a tiny person in your Birthday Suit.”. Genius.

Arlene Dreams is the smiles in the magical land.

Eleventy slows down pace somewhat with this song, but doesn’t fail to tell an adorable story which we suspect is the product of a dream. (Not that the title might hint at that or anything) Musically, it’s very like a nursery rhyme. It’s a sad song full of imagery of loneliness, but it’s hopeful and enchanting. The gloominess of the verses are contrasted in the optimism of the chorus. It’s Eleventy at her strongest both lyrically and musically. It’s definitely Pop Culture Monster’s favourite track on the album.

The cynics among us will have no problem dismissing these songs as childish, but when you really listen, you hear that she has a way with words beyond the stories she tells. A record full of wit, sing-a-long-ability and charm. EleventyFour isn’t the glass-half-full type, she’s the overflowing 20 litre barrel type. If The Joy Imperative doesn’t give you a warm and fuzzy feeling, you’re completely dead inside. And we’d get that checked out if we were you.

Now, we’re off to Eleventy’s hot air balloon.

[xrr rating=4/5]

Have You Heard This Yet?… Lorde