Review Summary: Excellent post rock album from this young group of Swedes. What they lack in originality is quickly made up in spades with alot of heart and justified talent.
About to enter an umpteenth period of depression, I came across a highly intriguing Swedish band that not only (temporarily) restored my faith in myself but in music as well. The highlighted band is Moonlit Sailor, a Boras, Sweden based Indie group. Forming in 2006 with members around the 16-18 age mark, Moonlit Sailor adopted a modern form of instrumental post rock. They released their first album “A Footprint Of Feelings” in 2008 and their second “So Close To Life” one year later in 2009. The second album is what I will review.
“So Close To Life” finds the young Swedes playing a rather upbeat and melancholic form of post rock. Comprised of Adam Tornblad, Joakim Wiik, Oscar Gulbrandsen and Markus Rundlof, these four musicians function as multi instrumentalists for the album‘s moderate duration. You have one bassist, one drummer and three guitarists/keyboardists. Sounds like a cluster*** right? Who needs three keyboardists or guitarists? I don’t know, but the template is pretty straightforward here.
Musically, “So Close To Life” adopts all of the common aesthetics of the post rock genre. Soft/loud dynamics, wailing guitar melodies, and a driving rhythm section are all there. But what sets Moonlit sailor apart from most of the other bands in the genre is the personality and emotion expressed throughout these nine mid-length tracks. Whether it’s the piano accompaniment on Sunbeams, or the acoustic/indie rock flavoring of Hope, everything these guys create sounds inspired and incredibly upbeat. There are no droning passages, pointless interludes, or overtly long orchestral epics. The longest song here is seven minutes long, and even so, everything displayed is just well written and filled with enough heart that it kind of makes up for the lack of originality.
Guitar’s are the primary emphasis of the album. Of course they are, there are three after all. Regardless, you can’t even tell there are three mostly because of the way they play and how well they gel together. Mostly filled with swelling melodic notes and set at a low tempo, the album is routinely chill but there are some really driving moments on here. Personified by the soft/loud dynamics, minimally distorted chords enter the fold, more than once at that, along with a crashing wall of cymbals and aggressive drum fills. Synthesizers, piano, and acoustic guitar provide some dynamic flourishes when presenting itself for brief yet welcome appearances. These additions help keep the formula fresh and exciting when the more standard fare begins to wane.
The rhythm section is as consistent as it’s predecessors. The bass has a real nice tone, it’s not too loud and not completely engulfed by overproduction either. Besides admirably following the guitars, Markus delivers solid lead performance as well. Drumming is also well executed. Adam’s “feeling” based style of play is based on the music’s rhythmic pulse. When things are slow he keeps things minimal. When the music does expand in strength so does the power in his kit. All in all, a fine performance for the band, especially considering the fact that each member is in their early twenties.
I really have no complaints with the record. I mean, the formula is pretty standard for the post rock genre, but Moonlit Sailor inject enough heart and soul (not to mention talent) through their music to make it stand out in the bloated wasteland that is known as post-rock. I forgot to mention how perfectly the artwork captures the vibe of this album. The shades of light green, blue and yellow stunningly capture the same melancholic aspect throughout the album’s fifty minute duration. I recommend this album to not only those who enjoy post-rock and instrumental music but also to metalheads who love bands like Alcest and Agalloch. You shouldn’t be disappointed.