John Moreland’s new album, Big Bad Luv, takes a big leap forward for an artist already wash in buzz. The recent king of sad bastard songs found some joy in recent years, and the rock band of close pals supporting this record elevate his lyrics to a more accessible sound. If you already rode the Moreland wave, you will not be smacked upside the head with shock, but if you have not yet gotten on board, so to speak, you might not even realize the waves have changed.
“There’s two or three songs that I’ve had for a couple years,” notes Moreland, speaking to PopMatters. “I started writing those songs before High on Tulsa Heat had even come out because I wanted to get a jump start on the next record, you know. I feel like putting out a record and just chilling a little while, and then it sneaks up on me, and I’m like, “Oh! I’ve got to make a new record now, and I don’t have any songs.”
So, to step away from the beach theme—or not—Big Bad Luv is exactly the sort of album you will crank up with the windows down on a summer road trip. Hell, you’ll be chair-dancing at the red light. The more upbeat tone is balanced by Moreland’s insight into human relationships and our own tendencies to get stuck in our heads sometimes. You’ll still find yourself quoting him in your deepest conversations with those you love.