L.A. three-piece Moaning’s debut album ‘Moaning’ is, unsurprisingly, an angsty affair. The Sub-Pop signing had been making waves in their city’s DIY scene for a while, but this represents the first concerted effort to harness that energy on record.
Despite titles such as ‘Useless’, ‘Misheard’ and ‘Tired’, the group refuse to wallow in this malaise; this is a collection of high-energy songs. They’re clearly shooting for the anthemic, with bombastic, syncopated drumming. Those brief moments of calm, the single guitar line, don’t last long – the band find comfort in structure. On most tracks, loud choruses and quiet verses and bridges abound, but this lack of subtlety on the dynamics front is paralleled by frontman Sean Solomon’s knack for hooks. They are subtle in their own right, eschewing complexity, and slot cohesively into all these structures, as on ‘The Same’.
‘Close’ is the album’s slick outlier, its synths adding a post-punk- lite inflection. On the whole ‘Moaning’ manages to sound relatively hi-fi– it’s the instrumentation that is abrasive, as on ‘Does This Work For You’, where cymbal crashes and tremolo notes create a cacophony. There is no elaborate narrative underpinning the album, no seamless transitions or ambient interludes, nothing longer than four minutes, just ten heady songs rooted in everyday life. All of this seems like a nod to the work ethic of their DIY roots, but they often transcend this, knowing they could go on to greater things.
Words: Wilf Skinner
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