When listening to the self-titled debut album from Moaning, what first stands out is the urgency to get their sound across to the listener. They race out of the blocks with the angular, impatient delivery of Don’t Go. It’s sleek, direct and in a hurry.
The opening track lays down the Moaning template that initially has all the aesthetics you associate with post punk. Darker and tenser than a brooding film noir, interjected with enough pace to quicken the pulse.
It’s pretty much a checklist for all that you crave in post punk. However it is a false dawn for what is to come. The supporting cast of songs don’t quite live up to the same standard. These are not bad songs per se but they lack the distinctiveness to stand out from each other.
That’s not to say there aren’t some standout tunes that demand your attention. Artificial with it’s pogoing bass rhythm and abrasive guitar lend the song a unique and immediate feel that quickly reels the listener in. Does This Work For You is also a highlight with enough contrast between it’s chorus and verses to stick in the memory.
The way singer Sean Soloman’s vocals have been recorded are both a strength and weakness. At it’s best, within some songs, it lends them a cold,voyeuristic feel which enhances the tone like on the aforementioned Artificial. But on other songs like Misheard, The Same and Useless, the vocals need more prominence and weight rather than being buried under effects. It renders the these trio of songs largely impotent.
The mix of the vocals isn’t the only issue. For Now verges into shoe-gaze territory and the dirge of sound layered upon each other smothers For Now from breathing life. It’s almost as if it’s a case of, when in doubt, just pile on the instruments when unsure how to build to a chorus or a crescendo. It smacks of a dearth of ideas.
Moaning are well capable of hitting the high points and when they do they show their potential but those are too infrequent, meaning they’ve ended up with an album that is merely adequate and, ultimately, unfulfilling.