August 30, 2012
Review: Poor Moon – ‘Poor Moon’
When Fleet Foxes members started absconding earlier in the year (drummer J. Tillman quit to focus on solo endeavours, frontman Robin Pecknold began appearing onstage alone more regularly), rumours of the band’s demise had fans crying into their lumberjack shirts. Although no official break up was announced, it soon became clear that there would be no activity from the Seattle-based bearded ones for the foreseeable future, allowing fellow Foxes Christian Wargo and Casey Wescott to bring to the fore their own project, Poor Moon.
Joined by brothers Ian and Peter Murray from The Christmas Cards, forming a kind of folk-based supergroup (like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young without the cocaine and regular partner swapping), the pair wasted no time in getting into the studio. First came a free-to-download EP (Illusion) in March, now this eponymous debut.
There’s a certain positivity to Poor Moon that may or may not stem from the freedoms afforded away from Pecknold’s overseer role in Fleet Foxes (rumours of the talented frontman’s iron grip on the group’s creative output have been rife, and there was a sense of slave driver perfectionist to last album Helplessness Blues). Opener ‘Clouds Below’ has a light-hearted, almost nursery rhyme feel to it aided by a call-and-response whistling solo with the crickets referred to lyrically.
Elsewhere, there’s a considerable debt owed to whimsical ’60s folk/pop on ‘Holiday’ and ‘Waiting For’, while ‘Phantom Light’ has light Hispanic flavours. Instrumentation is varied and well-placed – check out the eastern tuned percussion and harpsichord touches on ‘Bucky Pony’ – yet the overwhelming influence of Poor Moon’s musical lineage ways heavy throughout, with tracks like ‘Come Home’ harking back to familiar themes of pastoral nostalgia in a very comfortable and formulaic way.
‘Pulling Me Down’ emits slightly more urgency – a harmony heavy bit of indie/folk reminiscent of large chunks of Matador’s less distorted output – while ‘Heaven’s Door”s references to its protagonist “saving some pride for the man with the pitchfork waiting outside” are perhaps a disgruntled jibe at the tastemaker site of the same name dismissing Illusion with a paltry 5.1 rating.
In the post-Foxes release wars this year, Wargo and Wescott have acquitted themselves well against Pecknold’s sporadic solo appearances and Tilman’s hit-and-miss album as Father John Misty. That said, Poor Moon isn’t the strongest of debuts, and burgeoning promise is really all that can be taken from it.
Read this review in context over at THE 405