There are times that you want something high quality but relatively unchallenging. If this sounds like being damned with faint praise, the Big Moon’s debut LP is really rather good.
Recorded in two weeks during the summer of 2016, after being honed for a couple of years on the road, producer Catherine Marks captured the Big Moon quickly and effectively. The band have commented that the material was so well rehearsed that the recording session was “pitch up and press record”. This shines through as do the August sunshine vibes and the band’s gang mentality.
Four young women from West London, the band initially got my attention with their single “Silent Movie Susie” which appeared on last year’s Rough Trade “Counter Culture” retrospective. The song is a hook laden earworm, dynamic but cleverly constructed with a middle eight, false ending and phantom key changes. The video is charming too, showing how a relatively low budget production can capture something witty and memorable.
At the risk of patronising the band, what elevates the LP for me is the craft involved in the writing and playing. Nothing of what is included on the album is relatively revolutionary. It draws from the British Indie tradition and could sound middling if it wasn’t as skillfully executed. There is an obvious joie de vivre (the little yelp at the breakdown in “Silent Movie Susie” is great example of this) and I understand this comes across in the band’s live shows. The songs stretch out and develop, “The End” being a great example of a slow burning minor key epic, topped off with a snatch of “Let’s Go Crazy” Prince guitar freakout.
The other single from the album, “Sucker” is similarly immediate and memorable. The Pixies dynamic, the Elastica bounce – nothing is particularly new here but it is all carried out with aplomb.
It is easy to this kind of album badly – for example, I found the Hinds LP almost unlistenably ramshackle. This is on a different level entirely though and reminds me of the last Districts album, a personal favourite from a couple of years ago.
As with all bands, the second LP will be telling as the debut appears to have been significantly road tested. This record sets them fair for the burgeoning career.
Excellent joyous stuff.
Still available from Rough Trade on coloured vinyl with bonus demos here. In the meantime, the band are hitting the road in Europe, the USA and Canada with a good few festival performances during the summer.
For those who want to dig a bit deeper, here’s a Rough Trade podcast with the band.