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The National's Matt Berninger Has A New Band

Courtesy of the artist

Partnerships between well-known musicians often result in unequal collaborations: One voice, usually the singer's, winds up dominating. So it's refreshing to hear "Return To The Moon," the first released song by a project called EL VY.

Pronouncing its name "El Vie" (not "El Vee"), the duo features The National singer Matt Berninger and Brent Knopf, who's played many roles in the Portland bands Menomena and Ramona Falls. And, while Berninger's voice and words are instantly recognizable as his, "Return To The Moon" has a sharp, punchy, driving quality that instantly sets it apart from The National's more stately sound.

EL VY's debut album, also called Return To The Moon, doesn't come out until Oct. 30, so it'll be a while before the full scope of the pair's sound is revealed. ( in November and December.) But this is a substantial and intriguing bite — a terrific start for EL VY, as well as a conversation-starting look at where the pair's heads reside as their respective bands plot their next moves.

Here's the track listing for Return To The Moon:

1. Return To The Moon (Political Song For Didi Bloome To Sing, With Crescendo)
2. I'm The Man To Be
3. Paul Is Alive
4. Need A Friend
5. Silent Ivy Hotel
6. No Time To Crank The Sun
7. It's A Game
8. Sleepin' Light (feat. Ural Thomas)
9. Sad Case
10. Happiness, Missouri
11. Careless

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)