Last week, the shortlist for the 2017 Mercury Music Prize was revealed. As part of the prize's remit is to "recognise and celebrate artistic achievement...and to help introduce new albums from a range of music genres to a wider audience", we thought it would be interesting to get our writers to "live review" a nominated record they had yet to listen to, noting down their thoughts in real time. The Mercury First Listen Reviews are the result.
First up, DiS founder and Editor-At-Large Sean Adams on The Big Moon's Love In The 4th Dimension.
Beyond 'How Soon Is Now?', I've never been much of a Smiths fan. When I begin to unpack things I do love, however, from The Shins' lyrical gymnastics that leap over Trojan horses to The Libertines' most glorious moments of guitar anthemics via the fluttering misery of The Stills, Long Blondes' whip-smart pop, and the majesty of my beloved Pretty Girls Make Graves, it would seem what I don't really like is Morrissey. However, I do like some of his solo work and I did enjoy a solo show I semi-reluctantly went to. I'm more contrary than He.
Whilst not direct disciples of The Smiths, it does sound like The Big Moon share some of the DNA of some of the best children of Moz. For starters, they love barb-wired fenced pools of lucid lyricism (think: Bright Eyes holding a Molotov cocktail) that soar to heady guitar-pop choruses that hook into your heart whilst slyly prodding everything in their peripheral vision. With doomed glamour in lines like "A glittery trail of bodies" and "Where once I use to bite / Now my fangs are falling out", it's a debut album that kicks open the theatre doors on what's likely to be a thrilling career. It's less a flag in the ground, more a Buffy stake in the heart of all those 90s also-fans who recite Morrissey's life story.
The great thing about The Big Moon is that their year zero starts way beyond the point when Mozza meant anything. They start it themselves with 'Bonfire' that sounds like a Patrick Wolf barrier hugger writing a song that stands beyond anything their peers would dare, to such a point that it's like a disco ball reflecting all the light of the sun... or something.
I know this is meant to be a first listen piece but I got hooked whilst writing this... On my third listen to the album in full after liking a few singles but forgetting it came out, the best - of many things - about their debut is how it sounds like a pet shop with the cage door opened and activists filling the room with treats. As a lover of theatrical-indie, of late 90s acts who shoulda been heroes, of bands with far-too-interesting solo heroes at their core who had band mates dilute their genius... I can feel an obsession coming on... thank you Mercury Prize. This is what you were made for and more. Whether they or Loyle win or not, it doesn't matter. I made the time and I found an album to adore.
For more information about The Big Moon, visit their official website.