Review Summary: Staring at the moon, I'd pull it down to you.Lo Moon
burns with a soft glow, like the embers of a flame on the precipice of dying out. It’s awash in cool, electronic beats and refreshing waves of synth, but its heart – rooted unflinchingly in rock – refuses to be suffocated, letting a single flame slip through the cracks every few minutes to remind us that there’s an earthy substance beneath all of its elaborate posturing. Rolling drums and clashing guitars result in the most satisfying of crescendos, often sandwiched between addicting hooks and mesmerizing harmonies. The tracks routinely span into the five-to-seven minute range, allowing time for such blissful culminations to arise. Lo Moon may possess some vaguely familiar traits – recalling everything from Talk Talk to early-era Coldplay – but they somehow feel like a different beast altogether. The Los Angeles trio’s debut is on to something, and the band’s rich, vibrant marriage of electronic music and pop-infused indie rock seems destined to resonate well on all levels.
The prevailing mood of Lo Moon
is established early, with the smooth, romantic atmospheres of “This Is It” and “Loveless” carving out a purpose immediately. Matt Lowell effortlessly bends his voice to the melody, singing ‘ Parallel love, innocently vacant / On the edge of breaking…’
, before subtle keystrokes and pattering electro-beats elevate the music towards the record’s most memorable chorus, hands-down. Lo Moon
won’t be known so much for its infectious choruses as it will its sprawling, breathtaking soundscapes though, a trait brought forth in spades on “Loveless.” The song weaves through seven minutes of entrancing beats, moody vocals, and percussive upsurges that gratifyingly inject life
into a song that distinctly pronounces the death
of a once profound and meaningful relationship. That’s the record’s real hook – this indefinable ability to take hold of your mind and emotions, and transport them to Lo Moon’s world.
Another trait that bolsters Lo Moon
’s resumé, and one that we shouldn’t be surprised at, is how there are so many unique, intimate moments hidden within its vast, nearly hour-long scope. The album is ripe with twists and turns, proving itself to be a whole lot more than just your indie-pop version of post-rock buildup collections. Take the unanticipated saxophone mini-solo that highlights “Thorns” for instance, adding a classical element to Lo Moon’s repertoire. It’s a theme that actually resurfaces a few times, however subtly, as everything from classical piano to various woodwinds provide an uplifting accent to some of the record’s more dreary moments. One might also cite “Tried to Make You My Own”, where a little more than halfway through the song the band detours into this rural and imaginative dream-state, where guitar strings squeal, 80s synth keyboards ring out in a very “Beth/Rest” (Bon Iver) sort of way, and wind chimes gently sway in the background. Lo Moon
isn’t afraid to step outside of its comfort zone, and it’s a big reason why the album feels like such a distinct triumph over the genre’s familiar tendencies and tropes.
For what it is, it’s difficult to find fault with Lo Moon’s approach on their debut. Sure, Lo Moon
isn’t going to excite with adrenaline-inducing beats or cheerful, shout-along choruses, but that’s not nearly the aim. The record opts for rhythm over raucousness, feverishness over ferventness, and heartbreak over happiness or joy. As a result, it may feel a bit plodding to some – but for those seeking a cohesive and easily-accessible piece of electronically-infused indie rock, there are few better places to look. The whole experience is laid down so smoothly that it feels as natural as drinking water; some may consider the sleek production – combined with a lack of gritty, emotional outbursts – as a relative weakness, while others may revel in their ability to get lost in Lo Moon
’s spellbinding aura. One thing is for sure: Lo Moon
accomplishes what it aims to, and it hits the nail on the head.
For as under-the-radar as Lo Moon may currently be, they seem primed for stardom. With a firm handle on their sound already, and a wholly accessible debut that combines their distinctive personality with just the right amount of trend awareness, there’s little that stands between Lo Moon and greatness. It’s even in their blood, with the presence of guitarist Samuel Stewart (son of Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart). The stars appear to be aligning over this band, and Lo Moon
is just the catalyst they needed to commence that inevitable take off. In the words of Lowell on the energetic, penultimate track “Wonderful Life”: 'Staring at the moon / I'd pull it down to you'
. A band currently reaching for it all, Lo Moon seems to be on the brink of something quite magnificent.