To The Moon
In which our hero Christian Savill sticks to his aesthetic guns even after his former band, Slowdive (who, let’s face it, were a cloying and gorgeous proposition), became a cruel punchline of a whole genre reduced to a joke — shoegazing — comes back with a more insular and eccentric take on his former musical vocation and makes the critics eat their fucking words. Yep, that’s about it. Review over.
Or not. Gotta few things to say about some of the songs…..
“Sweet Lemonade” is just that, rock candy forming a hard shell around shards of jagged metal. Cooing falsetto, gently strummed chords that form walls of summer rain, sharp lead sections suspended on candy floss. It can’t be this pretty, can it? “Dream About You” switches up the blueprint completely; choral washes of synth and falsetto give way to a downright brutal new wave synth groove that’s total New Order meets the Cocteaus. I’m floored, man. And I love how the crystalline, rolling synthtronics of “Beautiful Arctic Star” drift straight in from the finish of the previous song, with nary a pause for breath. Just like the title suggests, it’s a glacial delight, like prismatic light reflecting off ice globes, sluggish and beautiful keyboards humming and muffled by the silence of snowdrifts as the boy and girl vocalists struggle to be heard amid this beautiful din. The vocals are beautifully asexual, like Klaus Nomi on downers and immersed in a vat of Robitussin; is it a boy or a girl, does it even matter anymore?
The instrumental “From A Distance” is like an unholy alliance between the Beach Boys and My Bloody Valentine/Ride. “Colder Days” revisits that icy orchestral kiss with a swooning and sweeping chorus, drenched in strings and stylophones as voices strain to falsetto to reach a grander love-expression. The two-chord codeine waterfall of “Don’t Know Why” continues the run of killer frost loveliness as an epic dopamine overdose symphony, the androgyne vocals of Savill’s humming flatly in one ear, gentle oscillations of machinery and brittle waves of guitar in the other.
“Memento,” following the throwaway instrumental doodle of “Good Grief,” is the point where Monster Movie almost starts to sound human, with fuzzy indie rock guitars; although the beautiful, keening chorus is buoyed along by genderless, cloying alien vocals. Which makes “Out Of Touch” all the sweeter; a solemn, deliberate, almost hymn to otherness — this is not human music, it’s forming a new language of experience — combining baroque flourishes with those angelic vocals and simple heartbreaking guitar lines that weave in and out of twilight synth waves. “Nobody Sees” is like Lush crossed with Depeche Mode’s ornate “Somebody.” And after that, they channel the messy lo-fi howl of Spacemen 3 with “1950da,” complete with Bobby Gillespie/Mo Tucker stripped-down drums and barreling piano. Just because they can. Now that’s sweet revenge.
Claire Records: www.clairerecords.com