Sound — 10
Sounds of the '60s and '70s never seem to fade despite pundits quickly writing off many a band's failed attempts to emulate said era. Last year saw Toy Horses pull it off and this year it looks like The Moons could do just that. Despite their first album, "Life on Earth," sliding under the radar somewhat more than it deserved, Andy Croft's band returns with their second '60s possessed studio LP "Fables of History" produced by Stan Kybert, whose previous work with Oasis is apparent on a number of tracks. Having already been previewed as Bradley Wiggins' personal soundtrack to his Tour de France victory and road tested supporting Beady Eye, the listener can expect a more than refined recording. The Moons evoke '60s psychedelia as soon as the opening track fires up and they're proud of it. Andy asserted "We look to our icons to craft the perfect story." The album is a tough monkey to identify as it dabbles its toes in both the vintage and contemporary, but if you mix equal portions of The Arctic Monkeys, The Kinks, Kaiser Chiefs, The Beatles and Paul Weller then you're not far off the mark. This may sound as though they've overdone it with the earmarking but they pulled off each track, making each and every one their own. First single "Double Vision Love" is a potent, archetypal mod song sounding like Kaiser Chiefs and "The Addams Family" mixed in a blender. Possibly not the nicest sounding amalgamation but it actually provides for an unusual yet thoroughly enjoyable mix of driving beats and dreamy pop harking back to Status Quo's early beginnings. The album as a whole has a vintage sheen to it. This is particularly the case on the acoustic folk number English Summer with impervious guitar harmonies intertwined with classic Hammond organ melodies. The album gets very Beatles/Rolling Stones sounding on possibly the strongest track "Something Soon" featuring Paul Weller on vocal duty whilst recent dreamy single "Jennifer (Sits Alone)" is about as psychedelic as they come replete with resonant, cavernous percussion and tooth rotting sweet flute trills. It was also more than reminiscent of David Bowie's Major Tom days. Further hat tipping can be found on the album, particularly to The Kinks and The Beatles, and in The Moons' case this is a very good thing, particularly with "It's Taking Over," fuelled with a jaunty bass line and thumping drums, replete with bongo filler.
Lyrics — 8
On the off-chance that the artwork hasn't given it away, The Moons favour a 1960s sound, and one that has a default setting of mild psychedelia. Based in London, they originate from Northampton and The Midlands. Each of the quintet is a multi-instrumentalist, but the man who brings the bulk of the tunes to the table is Andy Crofts. It's unusual just which '60s inspirations they draw from, as it's not (seemingly omnipresent) garage or blues-rock and they don't aim to replicate The Beatles, although if you're making pop/rock record that borrows from that era, it's practically impossible for the Fab Four not to leave a mark of some kind. You can play "spot the influence" throughout the album, and this is no slight on what they've made here, in fact you get the sense that it's kind of the whole point. The overriding sound of The Moons is British, but we'll come to that shortly, as they do pinch a few ideas from the soundtrack to US counter-culture, and at points they crossover. The ace "Forever Came Today" can't be tagged to a particular place or even time; "Double Vision Love" somehow mixes The Kinks and The Byrds with post-punk and makes it work; "It's Taking Over" also doffs its cap to the next generation of guitar bands. The wonderful "Something Soon" all goes a bit "Forever Changes," only it sticks a brief "Eight Miles High" guitar break in the middle, and you can't argue too much with that. You could maybe say that "Lights Out" has echoes of Love to it as well. Back to Britain: "Be Not Me" could be any number of beat-groups, but from those couple of years later when they had to adapt to try and keep up with the pace; the jaunty pop of "Revolutionary Lovers" almost breaks free and settles down in the early '70s with its MOR stomp, yet it's still a likable song. Naturally there's a hippyish ode to a girl called "Jennifer" which is part Donovan, part Syd Barrett and part Beatles, but you should expect no less from an album like this and it's an incredibly sweet track. "English Summer" (even from its title) tells us they've been listening to The Kinks again; they embrace the majestic pop of that era on the wonderful "Can You See Me." It's all be done before, but The Moons understand the music and do it incredibly well. Plus we've all eaten a bloody gorgeous piece of cake before and we'll all do that again, because it'll still be good. The Moons are a bit tasty like that.
Overall Impression — 9
Recorded in Edwyn Collins' studio, previewed in support slots with Beady Eye and on the Tour de France by Bradley Wiggins, the second album by The Moons the solo project of Paul Weller organist Andy Crofts is, as you might ascertain from all that information, rooted in garage, soul and psych of a '60s vintage. Singles "Double Vision Love" and "Jennifer (Sits Alone)" are typical of the two distinct sides on offer in "Fables of History": the former a fuzz-riff-driven shuffle, the latter acoustic, whimsical Ray Davies dreamer-pop. The quality of the harmonies, the instrumentation and most importantly the songs is high, and remains so throughout. The only real demur was the final track that doesn't really do justice to the album. It starts off with a gorgeous, almost movie soundtrack, string section but the once the song begins proper it fails to make much of an impact. The chorus could be a grower but the verses are bland compared to much superior previous tracks. It's a shame they didn't end on "Lights Out," which is a great title for a final track too. Having said that, 99% of the tracks on "Fables of History" are passionate and earnest, dealing with typical modern day British life with a vintage soundtrack. Everything about the album as a whole shines tight playing, excellent production values, the harmonies, the arrangements and the vocals. The two singles are definitely standout tracks but the whole album is a great throwback to the '60s and '70s and will appeal to both today's and yesterday's generations as The Moons seamlessly shift between each style to create an almost flawless record.