Blush (August 5th, 2016) by Moose Blood
Inspired by bands like Jimmy Eat World and Smashing Pumpkins, Moose Blood has grasped a distinguishable pop-punk voice that sits somewhere between The Front Bottoms and Real Friends. Combing through I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time to Time, I wondered if Good Charlotte had gotten back together after a thorough classroom analysis on Man Overboard.
Unsurprisingly, the British quartet hails from the same label as New Found Glory, The Wonder Years, All Time Low and Neck Deep. Formed in Canterbury, Moose Blood continues the famous line of Warped Tour groups Hopeless Records has represented for years.
They do it well, for the most part. The August release of Blush, two years after a successful debut album, was highly anticipated by Moose Bloods faithful fanbase. Sweeter and more polished than previous records, Blush is an aestival LP as vibrant as its cover art.
The impressive beats are resonant from the beginning, spiked with glamorous solos. “Pastel” is a fun, catchy song, though not suspenseful enough for the album’s commencement. Still, it matches the color of Blush: enthusiastic, summery and fresh. The same cannot be said for the initiation of “Honey”. Nevertheless, a harmonious riff from Mark Osborne is the highlight of this hit single, spinning into the catchy chorus that won Moose Blood a Kerrang! nomination.
Next, “Knuckles” starts with kick drum power and continues into bittersweet melody, like Pastel. Indeed, Moose Blood’s introverted drummer, Glenn Harvey, is far underappreciated. Ray Harkins 100 Words Or Less podcast with Harvey reveals his love for hardcore music, which connects with his lively, exuberant talent.
However, the albums weight is concentrated in “Sulk”, dressed with narrative about a troubled girl (Don’t tell me it was so glamorous / Powdering your nose and getting undressed). This is where Blush smoothly twists from sunny to wistful. “Glow” and “Cheek” juxtapose pop-heavy openings with a solid solos and melancholic lines (I knew she was lying when she said you’re okay / You’re not okay, no, you’re not okay, are you?), falling into the darker side of the album.
With a luminous melody and a relatable, precariously-written message (I guess it’s time to write another one about being drunk, and I just sit outside with a smoke on / It’s too late, it’s too late, his jaws all over the place, and you know this one ain’t like the last one), “Sway” shines bright within Blush’s sorrowful half. “Shimmer” and “Spring” are also rife with heart, both of the soft and somber category. They spark intensity in a unique way: Brewerton becomes vulnerable, releasing the same warmth and passion as popular bands that are known for it (e.g. Brand New).
The spontaneous flare of pop-punk exertion in “Shimmer” is only foreshadowing to “Freckle”, Blush’s brokenhearted finale. It’s a fantastic ending, far superior to earlier transitions, such as Pastel to Honey.
The single flaw in Blush is how easily it blends into its own background. While a few tracks are vivid with originality and emotion–most notably “Spring”, “Sway” and “Pastel”–others sound formulaic in terms of the pop-punk/emo scene.
It’s reminiscent of my thoughts on Judy Blume’s books — startling topics, boring plots. Edgy stories about wanting boobs and having girl gang meetings in treehouses sounded interesting — admittedly, to my ten-year-old self — but they weren’t.
Perhaps that was the point, for Blume — to show normality in words that strike the American public as taboo, when in reality are just elements of a female teenager’s life. Moose Blood’s canorous instrumentals call for deeper lyrics, verses that are main characters, not part of the scenery. This was achieved succinctly in their debut album, yet missed in Blush.
That said, Moose Blood’s hint of hardcore doesn’t hurt its liveliness factor. Blush, though in contrast to I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time to Time, features a handful of conspicuous titles that’ll keep pop-punkers on their toes.
And hopefully, there will be more to come.