October 19, 2005

Moonbabies "War On Sound"

In 2004, Swedish duo Moonbabies released The Orange Billboard, an album which stunningly blended their shoegazer past with a newfound breathy, sensual pop style. After years of undeserved obscurity, this husband and wife duo finally released a record that highlighted their musical strengths and abilities--Carina Johansson's breathy vocals fit quite nicely with Ola Frick's beautiful musical compositions. Not only did The Orange Billboardthrill listeners, but it also delivered the evidence that their future records would prove to be just as rewarding.

While the mini-album War On Sound is not a proper 'follow-up,' it does provide a nice taste of their forthcoming album, provisionally due early next year. The title track, taken from the forthcoming album, is a bit of a doozy. Less bliss and more pop, it's a straight up pop hit. Full of gorgeous singing, highlighted by a gorgeous and catchy male/female interplay, and thrown together with a rather catchy beat, there's no reason a song like this isn't a hit. The "ooohs" and "ahhhs" are tempered with musical passages that recall their shoegazing past, and surprisingly, this combination works. It's a sunny blast of warm pop that could melt the coldest of hearts.

Though such a distinctively wonderful song makes the rest of the record seem a bit anti-climatic, it's still quite lovely. The album includes four newer songs, but these don't quite give a hint as to what their new record might sound like, as all four are quite different. "A Perfect Passenger" is a lovely but otherwise quite inconsequential instrumental, "Ghost of Love" is a droning dream-pop number that recalls early Moonbabies; "A Minor Earthquake" is a stripped-down piano ballad, enhanced with Johansson's sexy voice, and "Don't Shoot The Ranger" is another instrumental, ad it sounds like an unholy pairing of "Crimson & Clover" and "Sweet Jane." The band also devotes four tracks to older material. Two of these four songs are covers--and quite diverse they are, too! One is a cover of Midnight Oil's "," while the other is a cover of Pink Floyd's early hit "Arnold Layne." Also included is a demo version of "The Orange Billboard," and hidden at the end of the record is a rough recording from a 2001 live show.

For those who are already in love with Moonbabies, War on Sound is an excellent stopgap release. For those who have yet to experience their magic, it's an excellent starting place. Either way, this is simply a pleasant, lovely release from a criminally underrated band.

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.moonbabiesmusic.com
Label Website: http://www.parasol.com

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