Elaiza only finished 18th in Copenhagen, but at least they did better than Cascada did in 2013. They’ve made the most of the Eurovision buzz and, during their 15 minutes, managed to put out their album Gallery.
After giving it a listen, my most most immediate realisation is that ‘Is It Right’ isn’t the best song on the album – something unusual for Eurovision alums. The ‘Is It Right’ formula is repeated not once but twice, with ‘I Don’t Love You’ and USFD alternative entry ‘Fight Against Myself’. The latter bears all the hallmarks of the Eurovision entry. The songs are all at least superficially pleasing, but scratch the surface and they’re beyond repetitive in structure.
There are flashes of brilliance, though. ‘Lemonade’ bounces along enjoyably, finally getting the band out of mid-tempo. The girls sound a lot more at home here, and that continues with ‘Green’, which colours them confidant and assertive. That’s not to say that they sounded uncomfortable on ‘Is It Right’, but there’s much more strength and confidence in the delivery on these other tracks. The horns and the subtle presence of the xylophone give the song real lift. There’s something refreshing about up-tempo songs without crashing sirens, beats or dubstep.
The girls can deliver on piano-driven slowies, too. ‘Invisible Line’ is minimalist and wrought, but neatly sidesteps melodrama. ‘Thank You’, on the other hand, strays into overly sentimental, maudlin territory. Considering how young the girls are, it seems a bit weird that Ela is singing a love song that sounds like someone wrote it at the end of their life. “I can’t find you without tears,” Ela laments on ‘Without’. The double bass and twinkly xylophone adds darkness and menace to the song that’s like a jolt of lightning amidst the lighter tone of the album. It’s not a bad thing, though, and the effect is quite electrifying amidst the other tracks.
The biggest face-palm of the entire piece comes with the song ‘Goodbye’. The song’s so phenomenally better than anything else on the album it’s really devastating Elaiza didn’t send it to Eurovision. It nails the slow build in the same way that that the Spanish ballads of 2012 and 2014 did.
“Believe in you, believe in me, the trust is over,” Ela sings, reminding herself that her relationship is over. It’s the kind of bittersweet message that reflects that the best is yet to come. “This is a season of my life,” she concludes in the chorus. This might lack the distinctive double bass and accordion sound that is the band’s signature, but you can happily dispense with it. ‘Goodbye’ sparkles brighter than anything else here and the emotional depth, lyrical strength and immaculate production would have given Germany such a better result.
Gallery is not especially assertive – hardly unsurprising for a first LP – but Elaiza is charming. So are this album’s occasional gems.