An homage of sorts to a city most people know only from the aromatic oil refineries adjacent to its exit on the New Jersey Turnpike, “Elizabeth” has an appealing, homespun vibe that unexpectedly recalls 10,000 Maniacs from their early days. Front person Lily Mastrodimus, a New Jersey native, has a rich, Natalie Merchant-esque quality to her voice, and a knack for the half-introspective, half-rousing melodies Merchant delivered in her younger years.
And this is all about guitars, isn’t it? Rhythm guitars, jangly guitars, ringing guitars, this one has them all, and if no one wants this sound anymore, don’t tell Mastrodimus, who has crafted maybe not so much an homage to Elizabeth, New Jersey as to rock’n’roll itself. “Elizabeth” is based on one of rock’s sturdiest riffs, the I chord to the IV chord, but Mastrodimus and company play it all with casual affection, and proceed to bury their most prominent guitar motif underneath enough general jangle as to tease the ear with its melody instead of flaunting its stoutness (listen, for instance, at 0:33, or 1:23). I keep wanting to hear this phrase more clearly but then kind of like that it takes until 2:56 to fully emerge, as the song at this point slows down for a marvelously constructed coda, which converts what had been a sort of unaccountable second part of the song’s verse into a memorable finish.
“Elizabeth” is the second track on Will This Do?, the second full-length Long Neck album. (I like by the way the built-in ambiguity of how by appearances this looks to be a song about a person.) Long Neck began as Mastrodimus’s solo project, in 2014, but has become a full-fledged band. Check out the extensive discography (there are a bunch of EPs and singles) on Bandcamp, where you can also listen to and buy Will This Do?, which was released in January on Tiny Engines. MP3, again, via KEXP.