Music Review: Jeff Lynne’s ELO

By Spenser Webb, Entertainment Writer 

British rock band Jeff Lynne’s ELO (formerly Electric Light Orchestra, or ELO) recently released their fourteenth studio album “Alone in the Universe”. The album is the band’s first release under their new name. Some may call into question Lynne’s ego after the rebranding, however it should be noted that Lynne is the sole member of ELO still in the band and also wrote and performed almost all of the songs himself. The only other active members on the album are Steve Jay who performs only the shaker, tambourine, and engineers the sound, and Lynne’s daughter, Laura, on backing vocals.

At first I was a bit skeptical about this transition. In my opinion, often times when a band is renamed around a single member the music seems to suffer, however that doesn’t appear to be the case on “Alone in the Universe”. Lynne demonstrates remarkable ability on nearly every song on the album and produces a sound that is both refreshing and true to ELO’s roots as a whole. The best way I can describe the sound is to say it’s as if all of the classic rock songs you’ve grown up listening to matured with you. “Alone in the Universe” sounds the way a finely aged wine tastes, classic and brilliant, yet new and refreshing.

This is unsurprising, as ELO has been around for quite a while. Their first album was released in 1971, and some of this influence is felt in the music. “When the Night Comes” has a distinctly 70’s (almost disco-like) feel without it being overbearing or even out of place in the modern age. Imagine if the music of the 70’s somehow grew up and became your cool uncle and you’re not too far off. This classic yet refined feel is a constant throughout the album. For example, “When I Was a Boy” has an incredible sound reminiscent of the Beatles’ “Let it Be” with a bit of a modern twist. The song, and indeed the album itself, is an instant classic.

I was a bit apprehensive when I saw there was a new ELO album. Often classic rock acts have a hard time transitioning into modern music. They either stagnate in their music or lose their identity in the modern age. Jeff Lynne’s ELO, however seems to have found the perfect middle ground. The music is fresh and enjoyable with just enough of a classic ELO feel to appeal to die-hard fans. I recommend listening to “Alone in the Universe”.