The Moog: Seasons in the Underground

The Moog
Seasons in the Underground

Formed in 2004, this Budapest, Hungary-based band worked with producer Ken Scott (David Bowie, Dixie Dregs, Devo, Missing Persons) on this, its third full-length release. It’s not a bad record but hardly one that sets this New Wave-worshipping outfit apart from the herd. But it is one of the more affable above-middling records you’re ever likely to encounter.

“I Wanna Take You to Paris” may be the best number among the 11 here and its commitment to humor and sincerity makes it more than a three-minute pop flash in the pan. Driven by Tonyo Szabo’s vocals and catchy catchy piano figures, it’s the obvious single and one that would make The Ramones proud if a bit uncomfortable, given the moderate tempo and tickled ivories.

“Highway”, written by drummer Gergo Dorozsmai, isn’t half bad either, recalling the first album by the Cars and late ‘90s Guided By Voices with its own refreshing twists and turns. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s about one of the most universally recognizable themes — cutting loose in one’s automobile and getting the hell out of town––or, in this case, the nation. At the same time, “I Can’t Wait” has one of the more energetic riffs on the album, a thoroughly rhythmic attack, and American chorus. (Evan Foster of Boss Martians fame co-wrote the track and contributed additional guitars to overall album. Where are those Martians?)

Elsewhere, “No Time to Turn Around” and “We Walk in Fast” seem like obvious choices for the live arena where this collective must surely shine even brighter than it does on record. It’s not hard to imagine that these tracks become rawer, the tempos faster, the moves more forceful, the band, well, more visible, the sweat and smell more torrential and pungent.

So, what doesn’t work?

Among the less successful moments are the group’s attempts at atmospheric pop, such as “Call Me Up”, a Tonyo Szabo-penned ballad that isn’t half band, varies the album’s mood, but lacks the oomph and POW! of the faster, more adolescent material. The same might be said of “We Walk in Slow”, the album’s worst track and an apparent attempt to write something in the vein of either No Doubt or Meat Loaf — whichever, neither seems appropriate territory for these excitable boys. (Although the thought of Meat and Gwen performing a duet just became a surprisingly appealing prospect — at least in this reporter’s mind.)

“March of the Unholy Truth” may not be the best song on the album nor the most consistent with the other rockers — it’s atmospheric, weighs in at almost five minutes long, and never rests on the obvious vibe or groove — but it’s easily the most interesting and suggests that if the lads ever opted to go the longer, more epic route they might not have too hard a time of it.

The Moog may not, as Wham! would say, make it big, at least not this time out, but there’s more here than just another European curiosity. Three cheers for bravery.

RATING 6 / 10