Sunday, August 12, 2012

Poor Moon — Poor Moon

I should say up front that Poor Moon's album would have come as a complete shock of perfectly jangly, harmony-laden 60's retro poppy goodness if it had been released a decade ago. 

But here we are in 2012 and there's a new album that exists that sounds like it belongs in 1972.

But, considering the current landscape of contemporary music, it's a very refreshing thing for a band with the stature of containing two (former?) members of one of the most critically acclaimed groups in the past few years to release an album that's vaguely reminiscent of the group from which they came.  I know Christian has other previous musical endeavours on his resume, but considering this is his first initial kickback, post-Fleet Foxes, it's an immensely important work in his trajectory. 

All of that baggage aside, this is the most awesome retro-sixties pop album I've heard in a really long time.  Seriously: the Beatles colliding head-on with Fleet Foxes.  A natural stance on strummy, narrative, modestly-orchestrated pop songs hitting an echoey wall of vintage dream pop goodnesss.  Nothing revolutionary occurs on Poor Moon, but what does occur is so well-wrought, so pure, that it quickly begins to defy timelines.  It's one of those rare albums that wears its influences audibly on its sleeves, yet still manages to be a breath of refreshingly catchy air because of the succinct passion displayed in the performance of the material.

Christian Wargo has the seemingly aloof (yet potentially and explosively intense) sixties lead singer mode absolutely nailed.  There are some jangly numbers here, some mildly bossa nova strummers and some numbers that are so passionate, so smart and so well sung that I have a hard time not drawing the comparison between this and the fantastic 70's pop revival of about a decade ago that found people and groups like Archer Prewitt and Beulah churning out wonderfully layered and masterfully constructed pop albums that nobody seemed to care about.  Reminiscent of a time within a time, if you will.

Opener 'Clouds Below' says all of this within the first minute.  Acoustic arpeggio, solitary narrative, whistling, it's all here.  By the time the cutesy music box piano intro explodes into the glorious harmony and vibraphone intro to 'Same Way,' it's a complete and pure winner.  The Gary McFarland-meets-Buffalo Springfield of 'Holiday' is kitschy, but pure fun, while songs like 'Come Home', 'What We're Waiting For' and 'Birds' are instances of a band using its roots and influences to build something timeless; something truly great.

And it's there, amidst that brief harmony vocal right before the quasi-surf rock solo during 'Come Home' that any astute listener should recognize the power and feeling of these songs.

Nothing but pure fun and feelings, Poor Moon's self titled full length is one of the year's best albums.  It's one of those records that's just so musically and technically sound that it's either destined for complete stardom or total cult status.

I say go see them live regardless.

Amongst the year's most pleasant surprises. 

Man, it's good.


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