Two thousand eighteen has been a year of mighty debuts thus far. I’ve been really impressed with most of the initial offerings that new bands are serving up this year, and the range of genres has also itself been fantastic. One of the more high profile debuts this year is from art pop band Lo Moon through Columbia Records. Their self-titled album releases on February 23rd, and I have to say that I’m rather excited about the results.
Lo Moon hails from California and consists of Matt Lowell on vocals and guitars, Sam Stewart on guitars, and Crisanta Baker on bass, keys, and samples. Sterlin Laws plays drums live for the band. The band has been together for a couple years now, and their sincere style has intrigued audiences across the country already.
Their musical style is like a combination of the warm pop rock of yesteryear, like Phil Collins, Journey, and Foreigner; plus the progressive pop of the 80s, like Depeche Mode, Tears for Fears, and Talk Talk; but also with modern pop and progressive sensibilities, like U2, Coldplay, and Radiohead. Add to that a hefty helping of ambient/electronic/trip hop, and you’ll get the general idea of what this album is like. Still yet, though, you’ll hear snippets of R&B and funk and plenty of brass instrumentation, and the whirlwind of genres continues.
So, what does all of that mean? It means the melodies involve soaring synth but sometimes muted keys, and those melodies feel familiar, but not unoriginal. It means the band has a sound that is highly modern, outside the box, and utilizes off kilter beats and songs structures. It also means that many of the songs have stuttering electronic beats, but there are also spacey, ethereal portions. The band also includes lots of sampling, horns, and orchestrations that breathe even more life into their sound. And, while you can pinpoint influences from across the decades, Lo Moon has a sound all their own and that I am sure while continue to develop.
Being art pop at their base, the performances here are more about emotion and atmosphere than about technicality. Matt has a very pure, honest voice with lots of range, and it seems effortless on his part. He and Sam offer guitars that are high tuned, soulful, and ambient. Crisanta’s bass and keys are major parts of the overall sound, adding weight and texture to the ambient beauty that so surrounds the listener. The drums, especially live, are huge and contain lots of massive drums fills and eccentric beats. These musicians use subtlety and small adjustments to achieve great outcomes.
The album has many strengths, but chief of all is the strong sense of melody throughout each and every song. The choruses here are all amazing, and there are tons of overarching keyboard or programmed melodies that create an atmosphere of gentle beauty and quiet energy. These musicians know that subtlety and restraint can be their best weapons, and they use them very, very well. You can hear them taking their time to make the transitions and melodies come to full fruition, and every single song is all the better for it. There is just something about the spacey portions complemented with the thundering drums that feels so right.
This album has many great songs on it, as each and every track is well crafted and obviously went through many hours of contemplation and editing. From the addictive chorus of “This Is It” to the dreaminess and drum fills of “Loveless” to the warm brassy vibe of “Thorns”, the songs offer variety and lots of little classy touches. So, while “The Right Thing” is melody forward and fun to hear, songs like “Camouflage” are deliciously subtle and ambient to their core. My favorite track, though, is “Wonderful Life”. It has personality, a great chorus, and a warm beat, and basically embodies everything I love about this album.
Lo Moon are set to make waves in the music industry this year. They ride the line between several genres, but who really cares about those temporary labels anyways? This band has a sincere sound all their own that uses touches from all sorts of influences, and they sound amazing. Take a look when their album releases at the end of February.