Photo: Domino Records via Bandcamp

Retro Rock Duo Night Moves Charm with ‘Can You Really Find Me’

In channeling greats like Fleetwood Mac, Todd Rundgren, and Neil Young, Night Moves' Can You Really Find Me is equally nostalgic and new.

Can You Really Find Me
Night Moves
28 June 2019

Even if Night Moves didn’t openly endorse influences like Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young—among other characteristic ’70s rock titans—such comparisons would inevitably be made regarding their latest LP, Can You Really Find Me. Indeed, the duo of vocalist John Pelant and bassist Micky Alfano follow-up 2016’s Pennied Days with ten tracks that alluringly mix the sun dried and heartfelt odes of those heavyweights with the glittery hipness of modern acts such as Portugal‘s The Man (2017) and Cage the Elephant (2008). Although this makes the record sound a tad derivative at times, it more often than not allows the duo to fortify an invitingly tailored and relatable amalgam of gorgeous production and earnest songwriting.

Can You Really Find Me is sometimes simultaneously warm and cold; beyond being an artistic distinction, this juxtaposition reflects how it was made. It was recorded during “a bleak and frigid Minneapolis winter” and then produced by Jim Eno (founding drummer of Spoon) in Texas. Along the way, live band members Chuck Murlowski and Mark Hanson helped flesh out the tunes. Justly described as a “grab bag” of genres “from neo-psychedelia to shoegaze, ambient pop to cosmic country”, Can You Really Find Me is at once retro and refreshing as it maintains a core stylistic through-line. Fans of the aforementioned acts and Night Moves’ previous work will definitely enjoy it.

Melding country rock and synthpop in equal measure, opener “Mexico” instantly evokes Stevie Nicks’ “Silver Springs” melodically and vocally, with Pelant [un]intentionally capturing her trembling pleas with eerie accuracy. That said, he certainly has his own presence as a singer, too, and the rest of the quartet do a great job of fluidly decorating his singing with glistening ruggedness.

Subsequently, “Keep Me in Mind” is filled with sparse acoustic guitar strums and succulent vocal harmonies, providing a strong contrast to the hallucinogenic electric guitar slides, dazzling keyboard chords, and alluring hooks of “Strands Align”. Later, “Ribboned Skies” leans closer to the piercing lusciousness of David Bowie circa Ziggy Stardust, while the angelic sorrow of leisurely ballad “Angelina” channels the multilayered falsetto of an early Todd Rundgren dirge. Sure, it’s all a bit familiar, but there’s no denying how masterfully Night Moves pull it off in the midst of radiating their own vibe.

A few other songs demand attention. For example, “Recollections” drips with ’80s electronic rock – plus some Mew-esque modulations – to elicit neon desperation. Afterward, “Waiting for the Symphony” and the title track sort of harken back to the orchestral garlands of ’60s pop music. As for “Coconut Grove” and “Saving the Dark”, both offer their own flavor while connecting a grounded foundation with celestial effects. By and large, they’re commendably varied outliers, yet they still fit into the sequence well.

In wearing so many diverse inspirations on their sleeves, Night Moves ensure that Can You Really Find Me attains its own personality. It’s vintage without feeling antiquated and unpredictable without becoming unapproachable (not that that’s always a bad thing). Best of all, it conjures many great forebearers without losing sight of Alfano and Pelant’s vision and execution. As such, Can You Really Find Me belongs to enough eras to remain timeless.

RATING 7 / 10