As the lyricist and singer of the National, Matt Berninger isn’t exactly known for his wit. Doom and gloom better suit his band. Maybe that’s why EL VY, his new collaboration with Brent Knopf of Ramona Falls and formerly Menomena, is such a welcome detour. On “Return to the Moon,” their debut for 4AD, the duo play off each other’s strengths — Knopf’s kaleidoscopic art rock and Berninger’s impressionistic storytelling — to skim the best of both worlds. Rarely has Berninger struck such a tongue-in-cheek pose as on “I’m the Man to Be,” which lampoons the ego of a rock star that may or may not be himself. The members of EL VY (pronounced as the plural of Elvis and rhymes with “hell pie,” as the press release notes) are clearly having fun drawing out new shades of the other. On “Paul Is Alive,” Berninger’s account of growing up in Cincinnati, he remembers his mother’s sage advice: “She always said/ ‘Don’t waste your life wishing everything was how it was.’ ”
ESSENTIAL “Paul Is Alive”
EL VY will perform a sold-out show at the Sinclair on Nov. 15.