As the years pass, more buckets of shimmer are added to the proverbial grassy knoll of summery indie music that has inundated the airwaves for five years now. Devendra Banhart begat MGMT begat Real Estate begat Avi Buffalo begat Night Moves; the list could go on for a long time, and doubtless with much interlinked personnel. Not that this is a bad thing; the bands listed above are generally pretty good. But how long can we endure this ill-fitting, hazy optimism?
Thinking about it, it’s a moot point. Devendra Banhart’s latest material is not the perpetual sunshine it once was, neither is MGMT’s. Real Estate and Avi Buffalo have not released records for several years now. That leaves Night Moves, a band whose debut record, Coloured Emotions, now seems a touch behind the times.
Musically, it's pleasant: shimmering guitars, hazy, falsetto vocals and a generally laid back pace make for a relaxing, albeit hardly riveting listen. The record can stand up to its stylistic contemporaries but it by no means betters them. There is a particular sound that is very well executed here; it’s just that the songs don’t match it.
Coloured Emotions's lead single, ‘Headlights’, gets things going nicely - bursting in with a country tinged guitar line which anchors the song throughout. The track is certainly a high point, the harmonica and guitars giving way at the midpoint to crashing drums and swirling synthesiser. Similar mixes of country and psychedelia are found throughout the record, adding an interesting twist to the often-overused psychedelic folk formula.
The instrumentation on the record is also refreshing. Stabs of Hammond organ are used tastefully amongst on slower numbers and tracks have a tendency to progress into something completely different than what they started as. However, this often lends itself to a lack of focus, and many tracks are vague and messy. The final, title track is an example of when Night Moves get it right; a beautifully effortless guitar groove brings together a song that recalls The Bee Gees and Prince whilst still remaining rooted in the hazy surf rock of the rest of the record. An absolute blinder.
And it’s tracks such as this final one that show the potential of Night Moves. While the rest of the record seems to follow a ‘the only rule is that there are no rules’ formula, when the song and the band is focussed, they are capable of great things. The sound of this record is one that may have gotten them a record deal, but will not get them much of an audience. Let’s hope that they have escaped their perpetual summer when the time comes for a second record.
6Jon Clark's Score