Toronto-based pop-rock quartet The Elwins – singer/guitarist Matt Sweeney, drummer Travis Stokl, guitarist/keyboardist Feurd, and bassist/singer Francesco Figliomeni – came together in 2006 near Newmarket, about an hour north of Toronto. After touring extensively behind 2012’s And I Thank You and 2015’s Play for Keeps, the four members developed a natural chemistry, which continues to propel (and challenge) their collaborative spirit on the band's third album, Beauty Community (2017). Play for Keeps notably helped garner the band a 2016 JUNO Award for Breakthrough Group of the Year with its first single, “So Down Low”, which amassed over 25 million audience impressions, peaked at #12 Alternative Rock, and was featured in a Canada-wide advertising campaign for Fido.
Says Elwins bassist Francesco Figliomeni, “Looking back, it kinda blows my mind thinking about all the different conversations we had about the new album and how much we supported each other through the process of making it. I guess it’s not exactly a surprise but a nice reminder that four different people with different tastes can come together and create something.” The Elwins had never entered the studio with so many songs before, each member coming in with strong material. An unspoken desire for more introspective ballads seemed to pervade each songwriter’s creative impulse, weirdly putting some pressure on the band to figure out what this record was all about. Experimentation led to new creative forays, including, unusually, an instrumental: “Your Very Own Beauty Community.”
There seems to be an overtly upbeat spirit to the songs and a sensitive, inquisitive sentiment within Beauty Community – a particularly refined and dynamic display of the band’s powerful pop songwriting chops. A close listen suggests that certain things are being processed; relationships, life, the sense of (and not) belonging. In the end, Beauty Community is the work of an experienced unit – a band of brothers who know when to push each other out of comfort zones. There’s plenty here for Elwins faithful to cling to but also tasteful explorations that shed new light on the band.