I had never heard, nor heard of, Say Hi prior to 2020 but this album called “Diamonds & donuts” came across my radar in the early days of the pandemic and it hit all the right notes with me. As it turned out, I would spend many hours listening to it over my headphones, while working away at my dining room table, while my lovely wife was doing the same across from me*. And this track, “And then some miniature golfing” was the album’s opening number.
Eric Elbogen started this project, originally called Say Hi to Your Mom, in Brooklyn back in 2002 and then, relocated operations to Seattle in 2006. He is the main creative force and its only real full-time member, though he has sometimes enlisted musicians to help realize his work in a live context. He has recorded and mixed pretty much all of the project’s 13 (!) albums (including this one) from the comfort of his home studio**, performing it all by himself. Word has it that a fourteenth album is due to be released later in 2023 and I would hazard that it would continue the trend as a real DIY bedroom pop project.
According to Elbogen himself, “Diamonds & donuts” was influenced by the idea of a series of psychological focus group tests, with each of the thirteen synth pop songs on the album representing a different experiment. “And then some miniature golf” posits the theory that “the saddest experience achievable by a human being is to be jolted awake from the false belief that you’ve truly found your soulmate.”
Oh, you even met her parents
And talked about traveling the world
‘Til she said “No matter what you think
I will never ever be your girl”
It’s 80s synth new wave with layers upon layers of hurt and pain, like they stuck Duckie Dale in the friend zone, but rather than at the prom, OMD is performing at a downtown New York punk club and the vocalist is channelling Joe Cocker and the Boss. It’s nostalgic and wistful with sidelong and knowing glances. Elbogen knows this kind of hurt and knows the only cure is more synths.
*Minus the earphones and the Say Hi album
**A laptop on a small desk in a bedroom
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2020 list, click here.