Tag Archives: 5 stars

Blush – Moose blood Review

Blush isn’t an incredibly revolutionary album in the sense that it reinvents the wheel or creates its own genre, but it is an incredibly brilliant and perfectly executed emo album that I can’t stop listening to. Moose Blood’s sophomore album focuses on sounds from the 90s and 00s by creating a fresh album with catchy melodies that can communicate emotions directly to your brain, while remaining fresh and making you joyous and remorseful in the way the best emo music can. No song on Blush is a one dimensional song, it lives in the space of contradicting feelings and decisions. It breathes second guessing one’s decisions and trying to figure out how you actually feel when you aren’t sure what to feel.

One of my favorite set of emotions in music is acceptance of sad circumstances, but being able to continue on without delving into despair or self loathing. The emotion is evoked immediately on Blush on the first track, Pastel with a look at a relationship via a timeline and the longing for confirmation that the singer has made the right choices in his life. These contemplations are the things that everyone can relate to, but Moose Blood is able to boil the pondering into musical form and wonderfully relate it to the rest of us.

Most people can understand what the feeling of unreciprocated affection feels like. Even when a couple mutually agrees to break up, it doesn’t mean that was preferred by both parties. With a great pre-chorus guitar hook, Honey drives that feeling home with lyrics like, “It’s in the back of my mind, But it’s worse when I sleep, Now I’m losing my breath, And I’ll never understand how you could forget me”. The constant struggle of the mind for wanting what could have been could lead to anger, but Moose Blood keeps it positive saying that things will get better, even while dealing with the ever constant pain.

Knuckles, the third track on this album repeats one line many times. This isn’t an exercise in laziness though, it is a nostalgic desire to relive a bittersweet memory of the last interaction with someone they loved. That memory played over and over in his mind, knowing it can’t end in a positive way for him, but wishing it could have been different is one of the life’s great enigmas — what if? How that balances with his version of the way things really happened in his mind and yet realizing he wouldn’t change a thing from the moment that did happen comes across not only in the lyrics, but the delivery and melody and instrumentation, and yes — even the repetition, almost as if the singer believes what they are saying, but subconsciously wants to assure himself that it is true.

Sulk seems to be a less universally relatable situation with the singer comforting and trying to help a female friend pick up the pieces of her life after a broken friendship or relationship with a seemingly manipulative woman who used her at a low point in her life. Even though I am not as into this track as many others, it does use its three minutes on the album to further support the band’s wonderful craft of blending mixed emotions into music. To state these things about an emo album of course seems redundant, but it is the craft that Moose Blood brings to the table that allows them to stand above a well-worn and somewhat tropey subject matter and genre.

Track 5 of the album, titled “Glow” tells what could be either a metaphorical or literal account of a father leaving his family behind. Potentially the most accurate response to the situation is how Moose Blood portrays it with the lines, “Wish you were in a better way, But now it’s done and I’ll move on” while implying they haven’t fully moved on. The singer admits they weren’t okay with what happened. As with Knuckles it becomes obvious that closure is not possible and self convincing may be necessary to be able to work out what happened emotionally, even while outwardly trying to move on.

Cheek is probably the best song on the album and is the exemplification of some of the core conflicting emotions that this style of music is about. So many feelings that fight with logic and how a single comment can make you second guess how you really feel about someone.  A mundane conversation with a woman that is in love with someone else can be so difficult when you love said woman. The song is about living as a friend for someone you want to be more, the inevitability of that affecting how you see their partner, and how even an offhand comment of affection could hurt so bad. Moose Blood’s power to convey these emotions in a description of mundane conversations backed by such solid musicality is top notch.

I’m not 100% sure about the meaning of Sway. To the best of my knowledge it is about an annoying roommate that everyone hates who constantly swears he will change. Sonically I am into the feel and mood of this song, but it is probably the track that I understand the least and thus isn’t as strong as the rest of the album. Melodically it is still very compelling and will stick with you for a long time.

Shimmer is another expertly crafted song controlling the melody and tempo in a way that drives home the story about loving someone so much more than they love you. It is about a relationship with disparate differences in how the individuals in the relationship see the relationship itself. The singer can tell so much about the way his partner kisses, but ironically and in a way that reeks of hyperbole ponders if she would even recognize him on the street. The way the melody stays in the lower register emphasizes not only sadness, but disappointment and bitter acceptance of the inevitability of more pain. When the guitars wail on this track it brings a different side then the rest of the album in the form of raw pain represented in the distortion of the guitars which are clean on the rest of the song.

Spring is a somber song portraying an account of a close one that seemingly took their own life. It is an honest questioning of their friends pain and experience. The singer recounts happy memories, and the emptiness that now accompanies those memories hand in hand. Even after three years, the singer understandably can’t make sense of the situation or the reasons it ended the way it did, believing in an afterlife to help ease the unresolved ponderings of what happens to those left behind when someone commits suicide.

Freckle is written from a different perspective. What if you were in a relationship that you desperately wanted to succeed while knowing every sign points indicates deterioration? The constant fighting and nagging in a relationship defined by strife instead of harmony is almost certainly going to end in termination, but war is better than loneliness right? Right? Blush wraps up with another stellar track in which the honesty of how people think about their problems in their own head is put front and center, regardless of whether it seems stupid to endlessly ponder these questions on paper.

A mastercraft in living incongruously with your feelings, Moose Blood’s Blush delivers track after track a stream of consciousness in such a down to earth way that makes me unable to put this album down. The melodies of each song are not only catchy, but impactful and effective at bypassing the logical portion of the brain and entering straight to the gut. Blush is about the paradoxes of relationships that are less than perfect, and the minute to minute contemplations of what steps to take at any given point.

5 stars

Bored to Death – blink-182 Review

Blink-182’s return with California is a great balance of not straying too far from their roots, while also avoiding stagnation. In what I would call their best album since 1999’s Enima of the State, Blink takes advantage of their new lineup and increased lifetime experience to craft a unique album that straddles the line of preserving a nearly 30 year old sound without ignoring what has happened in the music industry since the band formed in 1992.

Lyrically Blink-182’s 7th studio album starts off immediately in a way that directly addresses the controversy surrounding the band, namely the loss of Tom DeLonge. You can read everywhere about different sides and opinions on this exit, but the past is past and for better or worse, Matt Skiba has now taken the role of guitarist and co-lead singer of the band. As the opening song (Cynical) speeds up and Barker’s wild drumming kicks in, the stance of the remaining members seems to come out loud and clear with the lines “What’s the point of saying sorry now (not sorry, not sorry, not sorry, I’m not sorry)”

Notably, the loss of DeLonge does seem to have changed the band’s sound from that of their previous full length album, Neighborhoods. When DeLonge began releasing albums with his side project Angels & Airwaves, he explored a more moody and spacey sound. I think the beginnings of that sound can even be heard on Blink’s self titled album, but in Neighborhoods they came across loud and clear. California retains none of that influence and instead chooses to operate at a different frequency that allows them to operate in familiar territory without cloning their previous work.

Though this year seems like it may be shaking out to be a revival of the second wave genre, it has long since been out of the spotlight and to lose this sound that was so influential in my growing years would be a bit of an artistic tragedy, and yes, I do realize that is a funny sentence to use when describing a genre known for its sophomoric outlook on life. Nevertheless, it feels a sort of poetic justice that some of the largest progenitors of this genre in the mainstream would be influential in its revival the second time around.

Their first single, Bored to Death, is a great example of what 2nd wave pop/punk sounds like in 2016. While the genre tropes do exist in full force, the sound is not that of the early 00’s. Blink-182 manages on this track to remind people who they are without aping who they have been. With its darker tone, and subject matter, I think it also addresses the idea of aging rockers returning to the scene of their younger lives. It is a cynical look at their endeavor that reeks of honesty. The repeated chorus lines, “Back on earth, I’m broken, Lost and cold and fading fast ,Life is too short to last long” are a bleak outlook that works with the genre and the band’s age without simply posing the angst of their younger years.

Many of the other tracks on the album seem pensive in their chase for nostalgia, both in their harmonies which invoke a feeling of familiarity without feeling lazy and also lyrically and tonally with their longing for old relationships and places obviously full of memories. Part of my enjoyment of the album stems from the melding of the band’s nostalgic tracks and the listener’s nostalgic reaction to this band and their music. This wistful longing for things past is something Blink leans heavily on which in turn leaves the listener with the type of bittersweet emotions that stick with you even after the music stops playing.

Thankfully, not every track of the album is dependent on sadness as “She’s Out of Her Mind” proves. A fast and fun ditty about being in love with a girl who is a little bit crazy has one of those choruses that will get stuck in your head for days. The sarcasm of lines like, “She’s not complicated at all” feel more comedic than mean-spirited. This track and others such as “Sober” and “California” that prove that the Blink-182 humorous perspective is still represented in the current lineup. Speaking of humor, it has been years since Blink-182 has put out joke tracks an on LP and along with the humor in the previously mentioned tracks, two songs, “Built This Pool” and “Brohemian Rhapsody” exist as the stupidity you deserve for listening to a Blink album–this I say with all due respect as a fan of the genre.

I keep coming back to this album even after a week of constantly listening to this album multiple times every day. Something about the skillful blend of old and new somehow invokes freshness and old memories at the same time. This is an album that will stick in my head for a good long while and will invoke happiness and sadness in my heart with each listen.


5 stars