Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Moose Blood Will Keep You In Mind

Moose Blood didn't start out as much more than four friends drinking coffee and writing songs. They didn't write just any songs. The foursome from Canterbury, England, had a flair for writing emo lite.

Attaching "lite" to the emo moniker isn't an insult. Moose Blood picks up where emo left off in the nineties and then gives it a bit of a British pop twist. Even the opener, Cherry, sets the band up as something different by leading with a ballad.

The emotive lament of lost love might be characteristic of emo, but the way Eddy Brewerton delivers his haunting harmonies is considerably more polished. It sounds pretty clear that the band is hoping to guide you someplace different. There's a sensitivity here that not every indie band can cover.

I'll Keep You In Mind, From Time To Time. 

After the soft open guided by not much more than a rhythm guitar and vocals, the band opens up with the faster-paced followup Always. Anyone who heard the band's debut EP last year will find Always familiar. All that's different is the production polish: a considerable improvement.

Once you're a few tracks deep, Moose Blood really turns it up. I Hope You're Missing Me breaks away from emo lite and into something much more formative as a standout alternative rock song. Of the music videos released so far, I Hope You're Missing Me is the most striking in its accessibility.

The track is mostly about the strain placed on relationships and how they always feel better early on. Moose Blood makes the case that those who can remember those better days are likely to make it. Swim Down, which was released in advance of I Hope You're Missing Me, supports this idea too.

The primary difference, lyrically, is that it's very clear who is putting additional strain on the relationship. Specifically, it's about a guy who goes out drinking instead of sticking with his her. When she call him on it, he promises to buck up and listen to a Nirvana album with her again.

At first blush, the lyrics in Swim Down are authentic despite their thinness. The best aspect of the song is the build up before the song releases its tension and takes off. You can find this arrangement in Pups too, which is a much better track.

Two other standout tracks include Boston and Bukowski. Both were put out on earlier releases, but the re-recorded arrangements provide a superior sound. Both tracks are largely improved, even if Boston is a bit weak in the lyrics and Bukowski leans on another name drop or two.

These songs make up for it in the instrumentals and vocal delivery. It doesn't always matter what Brewerton says at times. He sounds good saying it, loading it up with conviction no matter what it might be. In Gum, for instance, he emphasizes watching American Beauty in the dark and lays it down as if that is the single most meaningful thing that could possibly be said. For real.

Even Brewerton admits the "what" being watched or listened to is trivial and more of a symptom of his own love sickness but inability to admit it. And therein lies one of the interesting things about the band that makes some of their tracks stick. They sometimes say nothing, but that nothing means something.

After the rollicking Kelly Kapowski, the band ends with the slow burn I Hope You're Miserable. It's pretty standard emo fare, but Moose Blood proves it has plenty of chops to deliver the goods (not that anyone needs convincing after listening to the other ten tracks). Only Chin Up can be skipped.

Sure, this album can be summed up as being the typical binge of booze, broken hearts, and burnout. But there is something in the way they've assembled it that makes I'll Keep You In Mind, From Time To Time oddly listenable over and over. What's that recipe? One part fresh, two parts nostalgic.

I'll Keep You In Mind, From Time To Time Ticks 6.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Moose Blood has progressed a few thousand miles between this album and their debut EP. By their next album, it's not unfeasible to expect they'll find the same success stateside that they've already found in the United Kingdom. It won't necessarily be because anyone needs an emo revival so to speak. It will simply be that they lay down great music, with fewer and fewer name drops.

You can download the album from iTunes or find I'll Keep You In Mind, From Time to Time on Amazon. You can also find I'll Keep You In Mind, From Time To Time at Barnes & Noble or at a discount from f.y.e. For more on Moose Blood, check them out on Facebook.
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