Belgium five-piece Newmoon are a lot more interesting than they give themselves credit for. The band’s Facebook profile describes them as the standard ‘rock, alternative’ group, yet they sound like harbourers of a much more accomplished noise. The galactic reference of their band name and debut album title give you a fair idea of where Newmoon slot within guitar music’s over-crowded star system. Space is a solid introduction to the band’s nostalgia-laden sounds that comfortably reach the hazy heights of spacious, shoegaze, without taking track-lengths beyond the event horizon.
Most of the LPs nine tracks are condensed into uncluttered, streamlined moments of varying emotional scope. Opener, ‘Helium’ is a slightly deceiving introduction, taking its cues from more jangly bands like Real Estate (…If they were submerged about 20 fathoms underwater). But a slacker, heavier side of Newmoon is coaxed out as the album develops and grows in size. Cheatahs-esque guitars shimmer in tracks like ‘One Thousand’, with its huge chords disguised in the delicate, free-formed ambience of 90s alternative bands like Slowdive. But don’t let that fool you, there’s plenty going on in Space’s streamlined homage to broody, euphoric guitar music to convince you that Newmoon aren’t simply attempting to imitate their influences.
‘Coma’ sails along a melancholic stream of semi-conscious vocals, reaching a climax of drums and ascending guitars that penetrate the earth’s atmosphere like a kamikaze meteorite. ‘Hi’ is a short, well-measured interlude that sounds like an alien spacecraft touching down in the middle of a forest. But where the band strive most is mid-way through the album on ‘Everything Is’, a gorgeous expanse of scoured chords reminiscent of Skying-era Horrors, awash with unfiltered noise and tidal ambience. ‘Liberate The World’ is another memorable journey, building from emotive ballad to soaring album send-off. The tracks don’t seem to have a heavy focus or specific narrative, but why would they? This type of heady music has always relied on semi-experimented, free-flowing atmospheres with truckloads of great hooks thrown in for good measure. Space isn’t a thought-piece, it connects on a direct, emotional level, without becoming sentimental.
Shoegaze may be something that’s becoming an over-done commodity right now, but there’s no shame in taking out its best bits to create something so near-perfect. Newmoon are underselling themselves as the standard alternative outfit – this is some of the most promising, greyscale guitar music knocking about Europe right now.
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