A dark corona encircles the borders of Belle Ghoul’s distinct brand of infectious pop music. Intriguing gothic and baroque elements, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, define “Lakes of Fire”, the first track off their latest EP Rabbit’s Moon & Doomsday. Eerie keyboards and synth bleeps, coupled with an ominous bass line, establish a rich atmosphere of a carnival’s midway at twilight. Throughout all six tracks, the Detroit/New York quintet remarkably balances a depth of ambience with instantly catchy hooks and refrains. “Timepieces”, with its vocal interplay between Christopher Tait and Jesse Paris Smith, drifts along meditatively in the verses before a sing-along chorus emerges. At the refrain’s end, the tune drifts back like a wave receding from shore, the staid and energetic approaches melding seamlessly despite their diametric opposition. Instrumental “Momentum” feels anachronistic, but in a good way, archaic piano notes and contemporary effects dallying with and augmenting one another while the percussion ebbs and flows, building to a rewarding crescendo.
Surrealism permeates the record without veering near the dream pop genre. “Winter’s Gone”, for example, is chilly and grey, while also being warmly comforting, lending the piece an evocative dichotomy. Rambunctious successor “Around For the Weekend” is jubilant and casts a comparatively sunny glow. Wrapping it all is “Mystery to Me”, ending the EP on a pensive note, sparse piano chords and mournful textures slowly gliding out and imparting a sense of closure. “Sometimes nearly everything’s a mystery to me,” Tait sings in a deep register, Smith cooing in ghostly fashion. Moving without being overwrought and unabashedly fun without being juvenile or kitschy, Rabbit’s Moon & Doomsday is a uniquely captivating document, packing a range of moods in its concise realm.