Review Summary: The bassist and keyboardist from Fleet Foxes join forces to form Poor Moon, releasing a debut EP that is as full of holes as it is promise.
Even though it is far from a rule
, it seems like the norm amongst members of established bands to only form side projects when their material won't fit under the personality of their current group. That’s why we see such a wide range of responses to these kinds of departures – sometimes a wildly differing sound pays dividends, and other times it does not. But what happens when a side project creates music eerily similar to the group from which they stemmed? Sure, it could pay off big time…just look at The Dear Hunter, who began as a side project of The Receiving End of Sirens. Other times, it just comes across as kind of stagnant. Unfortunately, the latter seems to apply to Poor Moon’s debut EP more than the prior does.
Don’t get me wrong, Illusion
is a decent release, but it doesn’t differentiate itself from anything Fleet Foxes would have written. If anything, it is just more of the same but with a slight decline in the songwriting and the quality of the vocals (Christian Wargo is good, but he’s no Robin Pecknold). The first song is the strongest one on the EP, presenting carefully plucked acoustic guitars mixed in with echoing vocals that almost allow you to enter a trance-like phase. The lyrics are also quite captivating, drawing the listener in with gems like, “We've only got to make our own minds believe we're living in the kind of world we want to see” and “If you find yourself with trouble, it can still remind you of the next time.” Overtop of a stunningly elegant atmosphere, every word rings out with an unparalleled sense of profundity. However, the EP is never able to match the quality of its opening track.
The remaining four tracks, while all possessing intermittent moments of inspiration, primarily float in one ear and out the other like lost spirits trying to find their way home. ‘Anyplace’ and ‘Once Before’ are lacking any kind of hook, and there is not enough going on instrumentally or lyrically to make them memorable, much less captivating in the way that ‘Illusion’ was. ‘People in Her Mind’ is an upbeat enough track, with a playful guitar riff that works with crashing cymbals to create a bouncing rhythm – but even that song suffers from a lack of soul. It’s almost as if Poor Moon composed it as a safety net in case their other more artistic ventures fell through. The closing ‘Widow’ features a rather intricate acoustic interlude, and vocal chants ever-reminiscent of Fleet Foxes, serving as an effective farewell although it is (once again) nothing memorable. Due to the EP’s general shortage of memorable material – and the lack of distinction between Poor Moon and similar folk contemporaries – Illusion
may be an album best listened to in
As a whole, Poor Moon seems like a group that is worth keeping a half an eye on…but no more than that. The potential and raw talent is there, but the songwriting simply feels tepid and unoriginal. If they can harness the magical folk qualities of their original band (Fleet Foxes) and fuse it with styles outside of the genre, or maybe even just expand upon those qualities, we could be in for a real treat. But as for now, Illusions
is nothing more than an average EP by an average side project.