[23 June 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
I’ll level with you, dear listener and reader. The first time I heard the new self-titled debut album from New Paltz, New York-based band What Moon Things, I hated it. I was only able to get about three songs deep before abandoning things altogether. But I happened to revisit the album, and I’m glad I did. Once I had wrapped my head around the band’s Modest Mouse meets the Cure sound, I was suckered in. That doesn’t mean that What Moon Things is a perfect band. Far from. Still, there’s enough on What Moon Things that is endearing enough. Opening song “The Vampire”, in particular, feels as though it could have been cribbed from The Lonesome Crowded West. And follow-up “The Astronaut” could have come from Faith, if you listen hard enough.
While What Moon Things boasts two lead singers, this happens to be the group’s weak point. There’s a certain caterwauling to the vocals, as though whomever’s singing can’t quite reach the high notes. Happily, though, the music more than makes up for whatever vocal deficiencies that there might be. The album is choc a bloc with decent songs, whether it is “Staring At the Radio” or “The Astronaut” or “The Vampire”. There’s a certain throwback sound to the indie rock of the ‘80s and ‘90s, and that makes for an appealing mix. You might have to listen to this record a couple of times to reach that conclusion, as I did, but What Moon Things has enough going for it to more than recommend it. If you can get past the amateurish singing, there’s a certain amount of infectiousness going on here that you’ll love if you’re into certain bands of yore. While there are deficiencies, What Moon Things ultimately makes for a good album, and nothing more. Still, it’s a promising debut.