Moon Duo

Shadow of the Sun

Written by: BV on 09/03/2015 15:34:04

What can psych do for you? Most often it has two common outcomes when focusing on the listening experience – you’ll either feel ecstatic or lulled away to some cozy state. What Moon Duo was formerly capable of was, on a general level, creating fast-paced, memorable songs that could leave you ecstatic and linger on in your mind for hours, maybe even days to the simplistic, fast drones. Guitarist/vocalist Ripley Johnson and keyboardist/vocalist Sanae Yamada are experts at crafting memorable hooks in their new wave infused, urban psych outings, as could be heard on their 2012 effort “Circles”. The question remains, however, if they have maintained this expert level on their newest outing; “Shadow of the Sun”.

Adding touring drummer John Jeffrey to the band’s general lineup initially seems like a great idea – adding a more human element to the savage onslaught of album opener “Wilding”. Johnson’s riffs and eventual, inevitable soloing are immaculate as one has come to expect of them. The guitar sound itself is hypnotic and crisp, and where Johnson formerly had an affinity for wandering off and overstaying his welcome with lengthy guitar solos, he has opted for a more concise approach on “Shadow of the Sun” – which suits the tight sounds of the band remarkably well. “Free the Skull” supplements the basic formula with the addition of a clichéd blues-reminiscent chord progression that bears a vague similarity to Foghat’s “Slow Ride” – although in a much more ‘floating’ musical setting. While it is a fun little detour, it does nothing noteworthy for the band’s sound in general.

Although my fondness for repetition and sonic playfulness takes up quite a decent part of my musical preferences, I can’t help but think tracks like “Night Beat” and “Ice” take up far too much space on the album for their own good. Both tracks are, to be honest, only vaguely interesting and the idea that they both have to exceed the 6-minute mark is incomprehensible to me, when there are much stronger tracks on the record like “In a Cloud” or the downright amazing “Animal”. “Animal” is also the definitive album highlight, with “In a Cloud”, “Wilding” and “Thieves” following it. On these tracks and on “Animal” in particular, everything great about Moon Duo is perfectly captured and distilled into focused ventures into urban, dark psychedelia that occasionally rises above the dense darkness and elevates the listener’s consciousness. What is sad, however, is that much of the remaining album has quite the opposite effect making it a hit and miss album by the very definition. While not as immediate or focused as “Circles”, “Shadow of the Sun” had glimpses of potential far greater than the band’s previous outings. Maybe the next album will see them fulfilling the potential.


Download: Animal, Wilding, In a Cloud
For the fans of: Wooden Shjips, Psychic Ills, White Hills
Listen: Facebook

Release date 03.03.2015
Sacred Bones Records

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