A year and a half ago, I ranted and raved about a debut EP that, for me at least, evoked the spirit of a seminal record – Brand New’s Deja Entendu. At the same time, I was railing against my own apathy towards listening to artists of a similar vein. Well, 18 months and one Spotify Premium subscription later means I am now au fait with everything considered part of the ‘emo revival’, (although I still think emo is a bit of a gross term). For example, Into It. Over It.? All over it! Touché Amoré? Oui Oui! Modern Baseball? More of a rounders man, but you get the picture.
So it’s with some excitement that I’ve been following Moose Blood – responsible for the aforementioned debut EP – and the news that they got picked up by No Sleep Records for their debut album. The label is a U.S. indie, home to a whole raft of excellent bands, including two of the three named above in my best efforts to be pun-tastic. The band flew out to the U.S. to lay it down, and returned with I’ll Keep You In Mind From Time To Time, an album that showcases everything that made so many people excited about their initial output.
While both a theoretical and literally name-checked reference point may be Brand New – with their dark and morose slant on life and death – this is, for the most part, an aspirational record. It easily evokes memories of young love, of times when you would invite someone round to “watch American Beauty” (on ‘Gum’), and “make you watch High Fidelity, on a Sunday, maybe someday” (on ‘Bukowski’).
So they are strong thematically, but this record goes beyond just what’s happening lyrically. For example, ‘Kelly Kapowski’ is more than just a retro name check. It presents a twitchy, over-caffeinated call for something approaching an unrequited crush, while channelling pop-punks finest guitar riffs. Closer ‘I Hope You’re Miserable’ sounds super-heavy, channelling the likes of Gnarwolves with its yelped vocals blurring into grunge-lined anthemia. Over the course of the record, they easily switch gears, and previous single/E.P. tracks like ‘Boston’ and ‘Bukowski’ sound somewhat more urgent and more focused in their latest guises.
Above all else, what keeps me coming back is how much of an honest and stark record it is, yet a record that leaves you with hope. Allow me one final Brand New reference, but let me use it to explain why these guys are different to them. Brand New typically stick their bleak, emo-slow jams at the end of the record (‘Soco Ameretto Lime’, ‘Play Crack The Sky’), and so leave you feeling a little, well, emo at the end of a listen. Moose Blood front-load ‘I’ll Keep You In Mind From Time To Time’ with ‘Cherry’. It’s a dark way to start, particularly with a line like: “She’s not mine and it fucking kills me, she won’t look at me that way.” Following this opening, the album grows with moments of excitement, love, and happiness. By the end we’re finishing on an upbeat note, well, ish: “I guess I’m feeling better,” even if we’re now chanting for another’s misery on ‘I Hope You’re Miserable’.
This is a band worth getting excited about. It’s a mature and beguiling debut album by a band that, surely with 10 years more of records behind them can lead some lazy blogger somewhere comparing them over and over (three times I’ve counted?) to some new up-and-comers. Truly, it’s something many of us should be hopeful for.