The first track on Lo Moon’s self-titled album is ever so gentle in its clarion call. Starting softly with light beats, ’80s synths and the controlled vocals of lead singer Matt Lowell, it eventually erupts in a stadium-ready chorus cry of “This is it! This is it now!” For Lowell and his two main bandmates Crisanta Baker (guitar, bass, keys) and Sam Stewart (guitar), Lo Moon is it: the moment they’ve each individually been working towards their entire musical lives.
Music is the universal language for a group of people who all come from vastly different corners of the earth. Lowell is from Long Island, Baker from Denver, Stewart from London; Los Angeles was their eventual meeting place. It was Lowell who instigated Lo Moon before it even had a name. His mantra – if you like – for all the material was their first release “Loveless,” a track he had been working on for five years. After its release, the media were wagging their tongues on this new “mysterious” band who emerged with a My Bloody Valentine-referencing, epic sprawl of a tune. Lowell and co., however, insist that their intention was never to be opaque. They just didn’t have anything else to say at the time. “We thought, ‘Let’s lead with the music and see what happens’,” he explains.“It ended up going really far and everyone wanting to know more about the band, but we weren’t keeping any information, we were just figuring out what we were gonna do next. We were starting from nothing.”
From nothing has come something astounding. Their self-titled debut album – a dark, luscious collection of songs full of crescendo rock and sparkling electronics – spans the breadth of human highs and lows, mostly inspired by the dissolution of Lowell’s relationship in New York and his subsequent move to the west coast.
The record was made in Seattle and Los Angeles and was produced by Chris Walla (former member of Death Cab For Cutie and full-time producer) and Francois Tetaz (known for his work with Gotye). Matt had met each of them separately a few years before, and felt strongly that they’d both bring something important to the project despite having never met. He decided to introduce them to one another, eventually encouraging them to co-produce the record. The result takes the best of both producer’s worlds and melds them into something as dynamic as its creators. Joining the band for parts of the recording process were Adam Granduciel and Charlie Hall of The War On Drugs, along with touring drummer Sterling Laws and The Blue Nile’s P.J. Moore.
Kicking off with instant anthem “This Is It,”Lo Moon mirrors the type of seductive electronic energy of bands such as the xx, immediately engulfing you in a cool, thought-provoking, meditative atmosphere. Moving into “Loveless,” the band’s calling card, the album veers towards hopeful, uplifting, and wanting. On the heart-rendering tip, “Thorns”tells a narrative of a love that’s gone but not forgotten. It’s bittersweet, sad, and nevertheless alive with catharsis. “Real Love”– another highlight – begins with an almost gothic synth line, moving from minimalism into a noirish despair. “When it’s real love, you try to fix it but it’s never enough,” go the lyrics, drastically and crushingly honestly.
It’s no surprise that Lo Moon have thus far toured with the likes of London Grammar and Ride. Their music almost bridges a gap between those two generations of soft experimental rock and near atmospheric electronic pop. The record could sit happily among the likes of Talk Talk, Roxy Music, early Coldplay, and the cinematic scope of Sigur Ros. Admitting themselves that they don’t keep too abreast of current bands, the trio find their musical Venn diagram tends to crossover in the ’80s, ’90s and always classics: Depeche Mode, The Cure, Peter Gabriel, and so forth. They’re very unconcerned with chasing the zeitgeist, or trying to stay current, an attitude that takes Lo Moon squarely out of the now and places them in a future perfect place of their brilliantly-devised own making.
The band has made itself at home on the road in 2017 – opening for Phoenix, London Grammar, The War On Drugs, Temples, Ride, and more – and the forthcoming year sees them rapidly becoming one of the best new live bands to emerge over the last few years, complementing their interest in their everlasting search to connect with as many new listeners as possible. “We’re just trying to take it day by day,” says Lowell, sensibly. “We want people to believe in what we’re doing and where we’re going.” Of course, Stewart is there to keep their egos in check. “In terms of our ambitions for this record I was actually thinking more – private jet,” he laughs. If the music stays this good, the sky will be the limit.
Micah Visser named his band after the Winnipeg neighbourhood where he grew up, where he spent his childhood learning violin and saxophone, guitar, piano, computer programming, until he could no longer remember when he stopped playing other people’s songs and began writing his own. It was here too, writing alone in his bedroom, that Visser, forged a sound that would take an indie sensibility and make it glisten, that found its way to a new kind of 21st century pop.
His stunning debut single I Will Not Return As A Tourist sets out his stall: a song that presses quiet lyrical introspection against a furious pop swell, that is at moments frayed and wild and at others immense and gleaming. “That song has stuck with me for so long,” says Visser. “It’s one of the first songs I ever wrote, and it kept popping up and kept being relevant to my life. It’s a song about feeling kind of restless and feeling a little bit helpless, like you’re more of a spectator in your own life. The line ‘I will not return as a tourist’ is a resolution to be more active in your own life and wanting to be a participant and not an observer.”
New pop stars are spawned every day; focus-grouped and conveyor-belted into being; dreamed up by music industry Svengalis and unleashed on the charts. Boniface offer something different, something rare and bright and fine: a new pop talent that has found its way alone, undiluted, electrifying, boundless in its ambition.