By Jon Fuchs, Music Director
[Sub Pop; 2018]
Key Tracks: “Don’t Go”, “Artificial”, “Does This Work for You”
Throughout the early 2010s, Moses Campbell was one of the leading bands in LA’s Smell scene, along with groups like Surf Curse and Abe Vigoda. Before their heart-shattering breakup in late 2014, the five-piece indie outfit was responsible for two excellent indie records that perfectly bottled up teenage angst in a way that was raw, personal and unbelievably catchy. That’s where Moaning comes into the picture, as the band is made up of Moses Campbell members Sean Solomon, Pascal Stevenson and Andrew MacKelvie. Moaning continues the indifferent, depressed angst of Moses Campbell albums like Who Are You? Who is Anyone?, while adding elements of post-punk into the mix to keep things interesting.
The album’s opener, “Don’t Go”, doesn’t play around, immediately diving into the band’s luscious production, reverbed vocals and blissful hooks. The guitar playing throughout this track is absolutely stellar, as well as Solomon’s monotone voice providing the right amount of “meh” in his voice to perform the lyrics. The first few tracks transition into each other, with tracks like “Tired” showing off the band’s soft, indie rock sound, and bangers like “Artificial” and “Does This Work for You” showcasing the band’s more abrasive, post-punk influenced atmosphere. Each track plays off each other beautifully, creating a simple indie rock style that never feels half-assed or generic.
“The Same” and “Misheard” were originally released back in early 2014, but the re-recorded versions on this record improve heavily on the tracks’ production and mixing. The cleaner sounding vocals almost make the songs sound unrecognizable, adding a lot more personality in the instrumentation that helps the band stand out from the pack. They both flow through the second half of this record really well, which feels a lot louder and has more post-punk elements. The record closes off with tracks like “Useless” and “Somewhere in There”, which uses noisier guitars and distorted bass to end the record on a booming note.
Moaning’s self-titled is a solid debut that displays a level of confidence and smoothness that isn’t present in several other indie-punk records. Although the second half can sometimes get a little repetitive, the record never stops being fun and the songwriting remains consistent, creating an emotional, exhilarating collection of tracks.