Moose: ...XYZ (1992)
Read the full review:
Slip & Slide A-
Does this song seem to start and end too suddenly to anyone else?..... Oh wait. I forgot. I'm the only person in the world who ever heard this album. Well, one of the very few people. I hope you'll listen to it after you read this review—I want to be good for something, you know ...Anyway, this song might be lacking much of an introduction and a conclusion, but they pretty firmly get us soaked into their drugged-up-on-drowsy-allergy-medication moods pretty quickly with that stuffy singing, slow beat, dreary mandolin, and those screechy bendy sounds in the background. In other words, this is shoegaze! The atmosphere gets me completely. (According to Wikipedia, Moose were trying to shift away from the shoegazing sound with this album, but …............... I still hear it.)
Little Bird (Are You Happy In Your Cage?) A+
With a song like this, you'd think these guys would be more popular. This isn't really shoegazing, but it's a pop song with their previous, hazy shoegazing elements left intact. And what an excellent pop song this is! It has a steady, toe-tapping rhythm and a melody so catchy that you'll want to play it over and over and sing along with it. BUT DON'T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT! GO OUT AND LISTEN TO IT YOURSELF. And, oh, the instrumentation is beautiful with those sweet jangly guitars, that pleasant deep-voiced lead singing, and even those synthesizer strings we hear in the background! This is quite an inspiring little pop song. You'll like it. I promise.
Don't Bring Me Down A-
They don't relent with the good feelings. And these good feelings aren't of the overdose-on-prozac variety that you get out of Polyphonic Spree albums—they're chicken-noodle-soup-in-your-belly good feelings. It's fulfilling. Yup, that sounded corny, but that's what it feels like. This is a little more subdued and folksy compared to the big pop sound of the previous track. Their melody is a bit repetitive, but its hooks are so catchy and sweet that I wouldn't mind listening to it for 20 minutes. The atmosphere continues to be compelling. Those jangly textures they keep coming with are wonderful. I even like that pounding bass-line they use, which gives this piece some very well-appreciated drive.
This song doesn't start out too strongly (although that little accordion sound they use is cool!), but after listening to it for just 30 seconds it has a way of working its way into my heart. The tone is a little more bittersweet than happy, but that just makes it easier for me to really love. They really like packing on thick instrumentation to their songs, and all of it is beautiful. There's all sorts of dreary sounds effects in the background, sting synthesizers, spaced-out vocals, and (of course) jangly guitars, but they don't forget to put in a LOUD AND CRUNCHY drum section, which keeps it fun. ...Seriously, there's no reason these guys shouldn't be more popular than Nirvana.
The Whistling Song B+
Man! Did I mention that they really like to pack on the sound in their albums? Maybe they overdid it slightly, since everything going on here at once starts to seem a little messy, and the vocal melody isn't particularly strong enough to hold it all together. On the other hand, it's a strange, quirky song what with that out of tune whistling noise we're treated to throughout. The drum beat continues to be loud and steady, so you can still tap your foot to it.
Everybody's Talking A
Yes, this is a Harry Nilsson cover! And what an inspired choice, too!! It's a beautiful song that not only has a great tune, but it fits their happy though somewhat bittersweet moods brilliantly. It's also really nice to hear their jangly/shoegazing treatment of this, which gives it a slightly different dimension. If there's one thing I've learned through my years listening to pop music is that nobody can say no to Harry Nilsson. And you won't be able to say no to Moose covering Harry Nilsson. (I'm really trying to sell this album, aren't I?)
Sometimes Loving is the Hardest Thing A
At first I thought this song must be a cover, too, because it sounds so dang classic, but according to the All-Music Guide, this is 100 percent original, which is amazing to me. I mean, this melody sounds like the classic Byrds or somebody might have written it. Of course, they're packing on the thick instrumentals as much as they can, and you can barely distinguish the vocals! That the classic shoegazing style, I suppose. The guitars aren't quite so jangly this time—the synthscapes and bending and dreamy keyboards and guitars are the main focus. They're not particularly pretty, but they come in like a flood all around you, and they're fascinating to listen to.
Soon Is Never Enough A+
This is what Moose sounds like when they're getting it on! Probably the only thing they've ever done to a rock 'n' roll song, this has a nice chugging rhythm, a little hint of Jerry Lee Lewis in that piano, and a wonderfully grooving little out-of-tune lead guitar plucking away. It's has a lively beat, but somehow it still keeps that hazy, druggy feel that most of these songs project thanks mostly to those sleepy lead vocals. ...Anyway, this is a lot of fun, and something that I don't think anyone has ever done quite like this before.
I'll See You In My Dreams A-
They take a moment to sit back and deliver a pleasant, French-pop-ish waltz! Like everything here, it has a catchy melody, and its instrumentation is a bit overly involved. And overly involved isn't actually a bad thing, especially since it lends the song a different sort of atmosphere. Here as they bring in a series of bending strings, guitars, and accordions to create a rather watery texture.
High Flying Bird A
There's nothing too insane about the instrumentation of this song other than it's just really good. The guitars are chugging pleasantly in the background and some sweet strings play in the background. For all practical purposes, this is just a nice song. The melody flows along wonderfully, and its smooth friendly vocal delivery makes it even sweeter.
I even like the songs that don't seem particularly inspired to me! This one doesn't quite have a melody that seems to take off to me, and there's a loud vocal effect that comes off as slightly irksome. But other than that, this is another one of their entertaining jangly/shoegazing concoctions that's filled to the brim with noise. This one seems a little more cluttery than usual, but that's not a problem... They keep the central, chuggy rhythm going solidly throughout.
They really don't let up! Oh, you might listen to this album and think I'm exaggerating these scores, and that's your right as a citizen of the Internet, but I'm telling you, I'm enjoying the crap out of these songs. This one is mid-tempo and a little more pleasant than the last one, but it has quite a hard, crunchy fuzz guitar groove that it keeps it from seeming tame. The melody isn't great but it's catchy and the vocal delivery continues to be sweet. Those falsetto “ooohs” he sung might have made Spandau Ballet a radio song worth listening to!
They appropriately close the album with an epic song with one of their more memorable melodies and most incredible instrumentation performances on the whole disc. The textures are chaotic, of course, but they're fascinating to sit through and soak up. Those lead vocals are utterly resonant, sounding like he's trying to make sense of the chaotic universe. (There, how do you like my cute interpretation of their motivation for writing this song?)
Last Night I Fell Again A
The kind people who reissued this album included material from Moose's early EPs, which according to both Wikipedia and the All-Music Guide were done in the actual shoe-gazing style instead of that country/jangle/pop concoction that they created for the album. Certainly the emphasis on this song isn't on pop melodies, but perhaps a little more on singing quietly to upbeat drums and wavy guitar sounds. It's a lot of fun to listen to and for the same reasons that most of the songs on the album were fun to listen to... So definitely pick up these bonus tracks if you can! (Actually, as I'm writing this, it'll be easier to pick up this version, because the original pressing has been long out-of-print.)
This River Will Never Run Dry B
I suppose this is where I semi-officially declare that I like their jangly pop style over this “shoegazing” business! While this song has a nice melody, it's very long (more than six minutes) and rather uneventful. It consists mostly of an electric guitar strumming away and a drum pattering with sleepy vocals. At least now I can understand where the term “shoegazing” comes from. I can imagine that they were gazing at their shoes as they were performing this!
Do You Remember? A-
In my weaker days (roughly three years ago), a song like this would have pissed me off for being more than eight minutes long, only consisting of two chords, and being an instrumental. In general, I still think a song like this would have been better had they made it a four chord progression! But still, this thing is supposed to be more spacey, so harmonies and melodies aren't really the main concern. It starts out very calm and a bit creepy with certain strange, space-age hits and burps come in. Then things gradually start to speed up until it hits interstellar overdrive... It explodes and calms down again. I suppose it's not quite as effective as a Pink Floyd outer space song, but it wants to be simpler.
Similarly to “This River Will Run Dry,” this sounds an awful lot like the stuff from ...XYZ except it's paced a little more menacingly and the melody isn't very poppy nor jangly. All the same, that's hardly a problem, since this one is especially driving and toe-tapping. The spacey/fuzzy guitars screeching and wobbling all over the place give it a rather ugly but interesting atmosphere. As usual, the vocals sound calm and friendly... and I can't understand a lick of what he's saying! ...Not being able to understand the lyrics, I guess, was one of the properties of shoegazing.
Ballad of Adam and Eve A
It's really hard for me to say what the appeal of this song in particular. Again, it has a nice vocal melody, but it is obscured through these hazy electric guitars and a rather loud whirling synthesizer buzzing over the whole thing. But the rhythm section continues to be bold—and thus it's easy to tap your toes to—and what we can make out of the vocals seems warm and friendly. The textures they create throughout this continue to evolve, but they never stop sounding just a little bit drunken. I'm assuming that 95-98% of the human population wouldn't give this an 'A,' but that's probably true of most of the music I like!
This is one of the strangest and most appealing songs I think I've ever listened to. That texture they created with those backwards sounding cymbals, galloping drums, and (yes) jangly guitars is bizarre and mesmerizing at the same time. The vocal melody also seems a little bit outta this world, and they really up those distorted guitars at the end of this. Hardly a commercial sort of song, but I don't think anyone ever accused these guys of being commercially successful. This is definitely one to check out if you like unusual '90s music.
Butterfly Collector B+
Actually, this is one of those cases where they're definitely living up to their shoegazing reputations, but maybe they did a little too much gazing and not enough... shoeing. This song has waves of sound going all over the place, but the beat is a bit weak. The melody is similarly dreary and weary... But given that the singing continues to be warm and friendly, I rather like their weary and dreary melodies!
BONUS BONUS TRACKS
Since I have them on my computer, I thought I'd might as well cover songs included on Mooses' early EPs but were not included on this CD reissue due to a lack of space, I'd imagine. (Also, all the bonus tracks on this album consisted of Sonny and Sam, a curiously titled EP that that was released in the US.) I can see why this wasn't included since it's a one-minute instrumental consisting of a subdued guitar strumming and drippy sound effects... But it was only one minute, so why not include it?
Well! I would have included this song in the bonus tracks over some of the ones that they did include, but I suppose with a band like Moose, it's hard to choose things to cut! This one keeps a menacing beat and they flood it up with some really fuzzy guitar. The vocals are absolutely indecipherable, but there he is... his distinctively warm vocals persevering over those intrusive guitars!
I'll Take Tomorrow B+
Sort of slow, dark and depressing. It's a slower ballad, which I know this band does well, but I suppose they hadn't quite evolved to their happy-sad state, so they were just sad. The textures are interesting in spots, notably those hazy synthesizer swells that come in from time to time. I almost wish they would have concentrated more on those swells!
Untitled Love Song A-
They use such a loud snare drum here that I started to think they were thinking of covering a song from Genesis' 1983 album. But of course, this is Moose singing a love song that was apparently untitled! ...I can actually endorse this one for staying off the bonus tracks, because this is a bit too weird, but anyone who is curious about these guys should still take a listen to it. The textures they come up with get more interesting as the song progresses... Jangly guitars, weird underwater guitars, and miscellaneous obscured sounds I can only barely make out...
Speak to Me B
This falls in the same class as “I'll Take Tomorrow” as a mid-tempoed ballad type of song that produces some interesting textures, but it's a little too weird and flooded for its own good. They weren't writing pop melodies yet, so their melodies aren't really enough to save it so much... Maybe the main point of interest here is they use a piano, which I don't think I've heard yet in a Moose song.
Moose: Honey Bee (1994)
Read the full review:
Uptown Invisible A
The first five seconds of this song are probably about the coolest five seconds that an opening to a song could ever have. It features a busy drum beat quickly fading in that's supplemented with a few chords of a watery guitar, and quite faintly, a flute going nuts in the background. Somehow I get a little disappointed when they get to the main melody, which is fairly simple, and it almost doesn't seem to relate to the busy orchestration. The vocals are delivered so unenthusiastically by Russell Yates that it sounds like he was getting ready for bed. Although if you aren't prepared for drowsy vocals before putting on a Moose album, then you should be. Lest you forget that this was the band that was thought to have started “shoegazing.” This isn't shoegazing music, though, but some sort of weird brand of jangly pop with a much more involved rhythm section than we're used to. The atmosphere is certainly thick and unique, and it does an effective job capturing my attention right away. At some points, it has a distinctly '60s vibe, but it's buried within a tangled mess of weeds. What's more, it has a strange tendency to get more involved and exciting by the end, and it happens almost sneakily. It takes awhile to get used to, but I have a feeling you'll warm up to it.
It starts out plainly enough with some bare guitar chords and I start to think perhaps these guys organized themselves! But quickly enough a rapidly strummed guitar starts to play and a bass guitar plops along. Yates' vocals come in rather weakly, and it seems as though he's trying to search for a melody to sing, but the back-up instrumentals don't let him capture anything! But as the song goes along, I start to realize that something is catching on. Some back-up vocals going “ba da da dum!” pop in now and again that reminds me of something out of an old Henry Mancini soundtrack. Even though I like the vast majority of this album, I'm not able to completely catch onto this one.
Mondo Cane A
I really miss listening to Yates' voice with the reverb effect. I'm imagining what this beautiful song would sound like if his voice sounded just as dreamy as that wobbly, watery guitar and that fluttery flute that pops up in the groove. That said, using your imagination to envision a better song than what's here can sometimes be a dangerous practice. Truth be told, this is an excellent song with a beautiful, smooth melody and back-up instrumentation that holds together quite well. Despite their lack of production budget, they're able to create some alluring textures, which are constantly evolving.
You Don't Listen B+
Pleasant and the tune is quite good, but once again it's having a bit of trouble holding it together, and they don't do anything particularly special with the background instrumentation to make up for it. The background contains mostly noisy guitar wobbles, which gets a little bit tiring. The rhythm suddenly gets quicker as they hit the chorus, which seems a bit awkward, but at least it captures my attention.
Joe Courtesy A-
It starts with a rather lengthy, minor-key piano passage before Yates decides to sing something. The piano passage is quite brooding, which is surely what they were going for. Yates' singing at the end comes across nicely, and the tune he sings fits that brooding style quite well and it even seems to be fairly well blended, unlike some of these other songs. As a whole, however, I don't think this song is incredibly inspired. It's a nice listen, but it doesn't excite me.
Asleep at the Wheel B
There's a very long fade-in, which is weak. Not that fade-ins don't have their place in pop-rock, but this one takes too long to do it, and it seems as though they couldn't come up with a better idea. They even do a similar fade-out. Eh! With the fade-ins and fade-outs, this seems only like half a song. In between these fades, the song is quite nice and jangly. The vocal melody is simple and forgettable, but it's pleasant, and Yates' sleeping vocals come off pretty well. The jangly instrumentation seems casual some listlessly strumming guitars, some lightly hit bells, and a few violins playing thoughtfully in the background. They've certainly created a sweet atmosphere.
I Wanted to See If I Wanted You A
Cool! This song actually has a riff and a rhythm, and so it's no real surprise that this song captures my attention much easier than, at least, the previous three. The riff and rhythm are completely friendly and tame, which of course is the only way Moose knows how to sound. (And, hey! I don't want them to sound any differently! Give me a choice, and it's friendly music all the time.) The riff is boldly played with acoustic guitars, Yates delivers a catchy melody with that lovely, deep singing voice of his. Some sweet violins in the background during the chorus makes it extra sunny.
Around the Warm Bend A-
This harkens back to my complaint earlier in these track reviews that this album doesn't seem quite as immaculately produced as it ought to be! However, some of this noise they layer on sounds as though it were done completely on purpose. (I have no idea how they're producing this sound, but there's a tremendously echoed instrument that starts to whoosh in by the end.) Other than that, this is one of the stronger songs of the bunch. Once again, Yates delivers a very strong melody (that seems a bit weak in the mix), and those jangly, upbeat guitars strumming away gives it a bright texture.
Stop Laughing A-
It's not quite as catchy as the previous song, but I rather like the texture they develop with this one. It's another one of their very busy but laid back and casual atmosphere that sounds exactly like a warm, summery afternoon. Yates' vocals are extremely buried in the mix, although this time I think I can give them a pass for that, since the instrumental texture is the star of this show.
Dress You the Same A+
Ah well, it took them awhile, but I think this is without a doubt, the album's unequivocal gem. That rather ominous whistling at the beginning certainly captures my ear and provides an excellent lead-in to the main portion of the song. As a whole, the instrumentation still seems somewhat weedy, but it's beautiful nonetheless, and Yates' vocal melody is so strong that it sticks with me long after it's through playing. I'm a little surprised some mainstream band didn't pick this one up and do a cover of it! It would have been a hit for sure.
Hold On B
Not really a song, but more like a coda. It's a two-minute long piece featuring a minimally strung watery guitar while Yates sings a few lengthy notes with that sweet voice of his. It's not bad, but it's not particularly good, either. They probably put this at the end, because there was no other place to put it! It would have made the album stop in its tracks.
Live a Little Love a Lot (1996)
Read the full review:
Play God A+
This is the sort of song I have an undying sweet-spot for; it's an upbeat and tuneful song with jangly acoustic guitars and lush orchestration. Most predominantly is the string section that not only evolves throughout, but it counteracts the simple vocal melody beautifully. And do you remember my review of Honey Bee where I was constantly complaining that Russell Yates' vocals didn't take enough command of the songs? That issue was completely fixed here. Not only are his friendly, smooth, and deep vocals loud and glorious in the mix, but they reinstated that reverb effect. In short, this is a beautiful bit of sunshiney jangly pop that you'll almost instantly love. (If you don't, then you're probably sick or something...)
The Man Who Hanged Himself A
Don't let the depressing song title distract you. This song immediately starts off with some happy whistling! I can't actually hear the lyrics well enough to figure out what it's about... They're being mumbled. And, unlike many of the songs from the previous album, I don't consider that a weakness, since this song is actually pretty well produced. It's mumbled like an R.E.M. Song, so there. It's quite a pleasant and upbeat tune with another catchy melody and more lush instrumentation that even goes so far as to include a Burt Bacharach style trumpet in spots. My only complaint is that the chorus doesn't get glorious enough.
First Balloon To Nice A+
Hands down one of the best songs this band has ever done—and by extension, one of the best '90s jangle pop tunes ever released. (I've done a good deal of jangle-pop-band searching over the last year, and I am very confident saying that bands as solid and consistent as Moose are an extreme rarity.) This is another happy song that I start loving the millisecond it begins to play. The upbeat rhythm and catchy melody make great toe-tapping stuff, but the melody is so catchy and endearing that I'm pretty sure I had it memorized by heart the first time I heard it playing. They continue to give us more cookies in the instrumentation... Those two horns that are constantly overlapping each other were a warm and brilliant touch! My only conceivable complaint about this was that it wasn't nearly long enough. It's less than three minutes! Make it five minutes! And lose that quiet ending, too!!
Ah well, we can't have everything, can we? The first half of this six-minute song seems more like an attempt to be artful than an attempt to write a song that can be enjoyed by the masses. However, did the masses actually enjoy Moose? Nope. So, I guess that means they were permitted to write “experimental” songs such as this. But I don't find it very interesting. It's basically a two-chord instrumental. That's mind numbing as it is, but it's dreary and keeps on pausing. They fade in and out some pretty cool guitar solos that evolve... but that can only do so much. The second half of the song is much closer to what you'd probably expect; it's an upbeat jangly pop song. The riff is bright and toe-tapping, but unfortunately I don't find it that memorable. The melody likewise is nice and friendly, but hardly the greatest thing this album has to offer.
Poor Man B
This isn't a bad song. It's just something that you can blink once and totally miss. It's only two minutes long, it's very slow moving and dreary. It doesn't have so much of a *melody* as much as it has slow wheezes. The guitars provide some nice jangliness to the atmosphere, which helps keep it bright, but that's about it.
Eve in a Dream B+
Now, here's where I'm going to start complaining. What happened to the boldness and brightness of the first three songs? They were zippy and wonderful! This is slowly paced and laid back. Though certainly I can't deny that it has a pleasant tune and makes a nice listen. The heavy, watery guitars give it an interesting texture. The sleepy vocals are, of course, in full effect! It's a good song, but just not too memorable, and it doesn't have anything wonderful in it that would make me come back to it.
Old Man Time B+
Yeah! They're slowly working themselves out of those dreary (but still pleasant) depths to give us this sweet ballad with casually strummed guitars, a pretty melody, and these cool echoed guitar effects, which gives it a cool texture. While it's by all accounts a good song, it seems like it ought to have caught fire a little better, and I wish they wouldn't have put in so many pauses. You can't let this thing gain momentum and then take flight if you put in pauses! Still, nice song. Without a doubt, it's on the upper end of that B+.
Love on the Dole A
Yes, that Bob Dole got a bum rap. Just think; if he were elected president, Monica Lewinsky would be an ordinary street prostitute right now. But anyway, Moose created a very beautiful texture here with some quickly strummed acoustic guitars and some thickly layered watery guitars and synthesizers with heavy reverb effect on them. The main vocal melody isn't memorable as such, but it is breezily sung and it fits in with the atmosphere wonderfully.
So Much Love, So Little Time A
Oh man, hearing them go back to full-on happy pop music after a relatively dark midsection is refreshing! (I like happy music. Damn all you wristcutters!) The presentation is a little sloppy. It doesn't sound like they put that reverb effect on Yates' voice, which I had been craving all throughout Honey Bee, but he's friendly and he's singing a catchy sunshine pop tune. The guitars are jangly, of course, and that makes them wonderful!
Last of the Good Days A-
This seems more well-polished and planned than the previous two, but it has a bit of trouble igniting itself. It just seems to wallow around in the same casual, mid-tempo texture without, really, ever thinking about going anywhere. But what am I doing complaining? This is another pleasant and sweet song with a strong melody, thick atmosphere, jangly guitars, and a friendly and smooth vocal performance from Yates. The texture is mesmerizing with all those complicated guitar patterns they cooked up in that studio!
Regulo 7 A-
Once again, this is a laid-back and slowly paced song, but you're not going to criticize Moose for that, are you? They specialize in laid-back tunes! This song is distinctive because of the busy string pattern they come up with, which is complimented nicely by a memorable tune. It takes them a little too long to finally bring in that drum rhythm, which gives it some punch. Nonetheless, this is still pretty cute. The woman they have whispering in French throughout was a nice touch.
High Ball Me (2000)
Read the full review:
A Starting Point
This is a near-instrumental in which they introduce us to their thick production standards, and the sorts of sound effects they're going to lay on us through the course of this album. There's some fake vocal “ahhs,” some crazy laughing, some wobbly guitar, fuzzy guitar, whispering, one of them European police sirens. It goes on for about a minute and a half. Cool stuff.
Can't Get Enough of You A
And here it begins, the zippy wonderfulness. What I like most about this is that driving and almost menacing rhythm that wins my attention. The quickly pulsating bass guitar keeps my toe tapping, and the bongo drums going wild keeps it bubbly. Some wobbly guitar in the background helps keep the texture alive, as well as somebody noodling around with a synthesized opera singer. (Some people might be wary of a song containing a synthesized opera singer... but it sounds epic to me. Although I've never been disturbed by such synthesizers, and I know a lot of people are. Well, don't let that deter you.) I didn't mention it yet, but the melody is extremely catchy. I can whistle it, play it on a piano, and people would want to know what song I was playing. In short, this song is hella fun, and it's not even one of my favorites on here. (Oh yes, prepare yourself for track reviews filled with endless fanboy worship... Well, what can you expect from me? I've had this album on constant rotation for six years, and it's just going to keep on going.)
Keeping Up With You A+
Get a load of that twangy spaghetti-western guitar at the beginning of this! That's one instrument that indie-bands don't use enough of! If you're reading this, and you make music, it's important to me that you use this instrument in at least one of your songs. But that twangy spaghetti-western guitar is just one reason why this song is awesome. The main reason is the merry beat taken on by a pleasantly bouncing bass line, strumming acoustic guitars, sweet synthesizer violins, bubbly organs, playfully twisting guitar exclamations, and a simple but catchy-as-hell melody. I should also mention that we shouldn't take Russell Yates' soothing and deep vocals for granted. What a friendly sounding singer.
Lily La Tigress A+
This take on old French pop music is slower paced, but it has a catchier melody than even the previous song. I compared this to Jacques Brel in my previous review, but that might not be completely accurate. It's far more pop oriented than he usually got, and it also doesn't make me want to slit my wrists. Despite this being a slower paced song, the instrumentation is just as zippy and bright. The gypsy violin weaving in and out might be a bit cheesy, but it's fun. Of course, this being Moose, they have a strummy guitar with embellishments from a tinkly lead guitar. The percussion continues to be bongo-based, and they're even playing this interesting cricket-sounding instrument throughout. The atmosphere is thick as ever, mostly thanks to some reverb heavy backing strings. The bass guitar doesn't play anything too catchy, but I like the way that thing just thumps around. ...This all adds up to yet another excellent song!
Won't Look For Love A+
Almost an instrumental... All we can hear are some faint talking sound effects, and Russell Yates' smooth voice comes in with a few notes very deeply in the background. The main appeal to this song is the melody, which is taken on intermittently with a lively electric guitar, a zippy harpsichord, and a beepy sounding synthesizer. The melodies they play, while not that hooky, are way more complicated than a real singer could handle, so we don't need no singing! This is quite an atmospheric song. It has always reminded me of Duran Duran's “Tel Aviv,” and it's just as appealing.
High Ball Me Baby! A
Quite possibly the weakest melody of them all, particularly in the verses section where Yates seems to be trying to sing in a register deeper than he's capable of handling. But fortunately, it picks up a little bit of steam in its chorus, which still sounds like he's singing it too deeply. The slow moving percussion sounds almost robotic, and it characterized by a regular hissing of a high-hat in such a way that it sounds like steam. And yet, I like this song enough to have given it an A. It's the INSTRUMENTATION! The melody might be a bit of a drag, but some blessed soul is playing a xylophone throughout, and another blessed soul keeps on layering on these thick, dreamy guitar licks. And you know what? Maybe I like Yates' unorthodox singing style for this. It sounds like he overdosed on Benadryl, but how many songs have you heard someone singing like that?
The Only Man in Town A+
This is easily the album's brightest moment, and also easily has the album's most memorable melody. It's my personal favorite on here, although I certainly wouldn't think any less of you if you preferred the more enchanting “Won't Look For Love,” the more bittersweet “Lily La Tigress,” the more cheeky “Keeping Up With Your” or more menacing “Can't Get Enough of You.” This is one of those albums. But this '60s sunshine pop throwback is my favorite with those sweetly scaling strings, bubbly pizzicato violins, tambourines, and a gentle vocal performance. As usual in this album, they give us great smatterings of dreamy, watery guitar, both deep in the background and for an excellent and brief solo.
Pretend We Never Met A
I wouldn't think bad of you if this was your favorite song, either. Or really anything. This is one of those rare sorts of albums. This song is more of the breezy and laid-back quality with Yates singing a sweet melody. They bring back the scaling strings, pizzicato violins, and watery guitars from the previous song, but they sound different when they're used in a slower paced song. This is such a cute song that they even use finger snaps and sort of Henry Mancini inspired back-up vocals.
There's a Place A
This starts out with a simple strummy acoustic guitar and some high-pitched electric guitar embellishments, which immediately makes it sound like a classic Moose song from any of their previous albums. Of course, I liked their previous albums, so I fully welcome a throwback to it. The melody isn't the album's most fascinating one, but it's memorable and of course I love that soft but deep way Yates sings it. The drumming slowly gets more involved as the song progresses, and so does the whooshy electric guitar in the background, which certainly does its due in helping this thing progress. The atmosphere might not be laid on quite as thickly as it is in the previous songs, but this does provide a good break from that. The one complaint I have is the false stop. ...After the stop, they didn't have to reintroduce the groove and then fade it out.
Wonder Where I'll Go A
In effect, this is the closing song. (The track that comes after is essentially an afterthought, a 30-second atmosphere piece.) And they picked an appropriately epic way to end this. Although it might not be the most compositionally fascinating song here, there's something marvelous about the verses section in which Yates sings around darkly with a slowly strummed acoustic guitar, deep watery guitars, and synthesized monk singers. That all builds up to a more sing-songy chorus, and it's so catchy that I want to sing along with it.
Twelve New Ways to Fly
As I said in the previous track review, this is a 30-second sound effects piece. I'm sure they were messing around in the studio and decided to put a creepy loop to an infomercial they recorded off the TV.
Movie Reviews | Short Stories | Message Board | Contact Me