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The Lost Elephant
Artist:  For Love Not Lisa
Label:  Tooth & Nail
Time:  13 Tracks/71:25 minutes

Synchronicity Of The Preacher Man Blues (sample) (G2) (liquid)
No Compression (sample) (G2) (liquid)
Once upon a time, there was a band named For Love Not Lisa. They signed with Elektra Records, released several critically-acclaimed albums, toured with big-name bands Stone Temple Pilots and Rage Against the Machine, and then broke up, angry at Elektra's inability to capitalize. Lead singer Mike Lewis and guitarist Miles went on to form the popular Christian band Puller, and it seemed like For Love Not Lisa was dead and buried. Until now.

Tooth & Nail has released (to secular stores only, presumably due to some controversial artwork in the liner notes) The Lost Elephant, a fourteen-track album that includes outtakes, rarities, and three new tracks, recorded just this year. It's obviously a must-have for fans of Puller, as well as those of us who have grown weary of mediocre electronica and late '90s radio rock, and long for the power chord-chugging days of grunge. Yes, Nirvana fans will be well-pleased by The Lost Elephant--the album combines the best of the grunge movement, mixing elements of not only Cobain, but also Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and other "grunge greats."

The lyrics are generally too low in the mix to deciphered, but those that are intelligible don't appear to be overbearingly Christian. This may irk the more conservative followers of Christendom, but keep in mind that For Love Not Lisa never claimed to be a Christian band. They were signed to a secular label, played with only secular bands, and had no involvement whatsoever in the Christian music industry.

The album's major problem comes with the sameness of the songs. All the songs have the typical grunge feel to them, and the only songs that really stand out as different is the ballad "Synchronicity of the Preacher Man Blues" and the weird beatnik-type poem "No Compression." Other than that, these are typical early 1990s grunge anthems, which will either irritate you or delight you, depending on your feelings for the genre.

Michial Farmer

For Love Not Lisa, best known for their song on The Crow soundtrack in the early '90s and for being the earlier band of Mike Lewis and Miles from Puller, is back. Tooth & Nail somehow convinced Mike and Miles to add a FLNL return to their other ongoing projects. Good move, since Lewis' throaty but soft vocals always did fit the aggression of FLNL better than the arty post-punk of Puller. The Lost Elephant consists of three new songs, the out-of-print Elephant EP from '92, and their original basement-recorded '91 demo. The new songs are obvious highlights, mature examples of their strong, smart neo-grunge sound somewhere in a power-chord corner between Foo Fighters, Candlebox, and Nirvana. The _Elephant_ EP tracks are standard FLNL fare, except for the punk-driven catchiness of "Had a Lover." The early demo tracks, of interest only to fans, are punk-metal hybrids with lousy production, but the final song is a breath of fresh creativity, with acoustic guitars, spoken narration, and an atmospheric vibe. Totally unlike their later sound, it was the first song they recorded--and ironically, their most original and stimulating. Unfortunately, FLNL's choice of a name that evokes flowers & poetry more than the alterna-metal they play is just as likely to keep possible fans from finding them as it did before. Too bad, because they're somewhat worthy of notice.

Josh Spencer  3/12/2000
 
 

Josh Spencer, contributing senior associate editor for The Phantom Tollbooth for over two years, is also publisher and editor-in-chief of spiritual pop culture webzine Stranger Things.  Reviews and articles by him are usually simultaneously published in some form at http://www.strangerthingsmag.com.
 
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