Are consistency and predictability a bad thing when it comes to music? It can be if the music isn’t great. But if it is Moon Duo, then it’s not just a good thing but a great thing. That said, to call their third full-length predictable would be a disservice. Rather on Shadow of the Sun, Moon Duo, which is comprised of former school teacher and now keyboardist Sanae Yamada and Wooden Shjips frontman and guitarist Ripley Johnson, have continued to expand on the psychedelia and krautrock mix they’ve been spinning for nearly six years.
One of the ways they’ve expanded is by adding Canadian John Jeffrey to play drums and provide a rhythmic layer to their music. Jeffrey’s presence is particularly felt on the cathartic and anthemic “Free to Skull”, taking the fuzzy psychedelic-rock track into another stratosphere. The song is the highlight of the album that will have you fist pumping the air or nodding your head in rhythm to the bass drum. The lead single from the album, “Animal”, has a darker, heavier feel with Jeffrey’s pounding drumming to complement the Ripley’s axe-grinding.
“Ice” also sees the duo – ummm, trio – head into the garage/club environment with an element of psychedelia of course. With Yamada’s keys replicating a synth and a driving bass drum, the song’s pulse pounds in your chest and you’re left with the feeling of dancing in a smokey club while the heat of the assortment of lights flicker above. It’s an interesting change-of-pace but a welcome one.
But not everything is completely new. “Wildling”, the opening track, is characteristic Moon Duo – a melodic, space-rock tune that leaves your mind spinning. “Slow Down Low” and “Night Beat” are driving, catchy tunes that comes closest to replicating the music of Wooden Shjips. “Zero”, meanwhile, is a spooky, psychedelic number that has Johnson and Yamada singing delicately – whispery in Yamada’s case – and a slight “mew” of cat can be heard. It’s the perfect tune to be playing on Friday the 13th.
Shadow of the Sun may not be full of surprises, but the songs that show a slight change of direction are intriguing and stellar in the case of “Free to Skull”. And there’s something about listening to a band and knowing what you’re going to get and that something will be pretty darn good. It’s like going to your favourite cafe and knowing you’ll be extremely satisfied with the coffee and the fresh pastries. And Moon Duo, they’re dependable, they’re consistent, and they’re predictably excellent.
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