For nearly a year, the Los-Angeles based synth-pop/alternative band Lo Moon’s YouTube channel only had a single – ‘Loveless’. Nothing much was known about the band that produced a serene seven-minute song, which was incredibly well-produced.
However, by the end of 2016, you could find the trio, comprising Matt Lowell (vocals/guitar), Crisanta Baker (synth/bass), and Sam Stewart (guitar), playing at a handful of music festivals in the US, and gaining some prominence after New York Times heralded them as one of the top performers at the Governor’s Ball held in 2017. They shared the honour with acts such as Tool, Chance The Rapper, Lorde, and Dua Lipa, who would generally know a thing or two about touring and live performances. This, combined with repeated coverage by NPR (who have dedicated over 20 articles to them in the past six months), brought some mainstream attention to Lo Moon.
Cut to February 2018, and we have the band’s self-titled debut album. The 10-track album, which runs just short of 50 minutes, is heavily layered with synthesisers and electronic instruments and is produced by Chriss Walla (guitarist for Death Cab for Cutie), and Francois Tetaz, who has produced for Gotye and Kimbra in the past.
The album starts with ‘This Is It’, a slow but heavy ballad, and then flows beautifully into inarguably still their greatest track, ‘Loveless’. ‘The Right Thing’ has elements of R&B go subtly well with their heavily produced synthesisers, which is an optimistic sign.
‘Thorns’ sounds something produced straight out of Peter Gabriel’s kitchen, while ‘Tried to Make You My Own’ seems like an ode to early Thom Yorke. However, this is really where the album falls off.
The rest of the tracks lack the oomph of the songs that have laid the precedent and don’t attract much attention. At times, the lyrics seem terribly forced in order for the choruses to rhyme (Don’t marry me for my money//I’ve got this love for you honey; ‘My Money’), while at other times, it just seems like the track stopped while playing (‘Camouflage’).
The discontinuity of the pace of the songs in the second half is what undoes the brilliant opening of the eponymous album. All the songs have the same flow, and try and build up to a great crescendo, but fail to emulate ‘Loveless’. Overall, it’s a cautiously exciting debut for the trio.
Lowell has described the 80s synth-pop band TalkTalk as their premiere inspiration, and after a dozen or so listens to his first album, rightfully so. The entire album (leave ‘Loveless’ be) tries its best to liken itself to TalkTalk’s biggest hit The Colour of Spring and succeeds to a fair extent. However, the biggest problem for Lo Moon remains that it is 2018, and The Colour of Spring released back in ’86.