A couple of years ago, I managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Los Angeles-based indie rock/post punk trio Moaning. The members of the band — Sean Solomon (vocals, guitar), Pascal Stevenson (keys, bass) and Andrew MacKelvie (drums) — have been friends and collaborators in Los Angeles’ DIY scene for the better part of a decade through music and other creative pursuits in different media — Solomon is also a noted illustrator, art director and animator while Stevenson and MacKelvie have played in or produced and engineered acclaimed and rapidly rising acts like Cherry Glazerr, Sasami and Surf Curse.
Now, as you may recall, with the release of 2018’s self-titled, full-length debut, the members of Moaning received attention from a number of nationally and internationally known media outlets including The Fader, The Guardian, DIY Magazine, Stereogum, and others for a moody and angular post-punk sound that seemed to recall Joy Division, Interpol and Preoccupations. Slated for a March 20, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records, the Los Angeles-based trio’s highly-anticipated Alex Newport-produced and engineered sophomore album Uneasy Laughter is a much more collaborative effort than its predecessor, an effort that finds the band actively brightening the claustrophobic and uneasy sound that won them attention by trading guitars for synths and beats.
Thematically, the album focuses on the everyday anxieties of being a somewhat functioning human in the madness of our current century — with the material touching upon the personal and universal. “We’ve known each other forever and we’re really comfortable trying to express where we’re at. A lot of bands aren’t so close,” the band’s Andrew MacKelvie says in press notes. Sean Solomon, who celebrated a year of sobriety during the Uneasy Laughter sessions adds “Men are conditioned not to be vulnerable or admit they’re wrong. But I wanted to talk openly about my feelings and mistakes I’ve made.”
Last month, I wrote about Uneasy Laughter‘s first single, the brooding “Ego.” Centered around shimmering synth, a soaring hook and a blistering guitar solo, the song found the band’s sound boldly and confidently moving in the direction of early 80s New Order. Thematically speaking, the song’s narrator desperately takes stock of himself and his relationships to others with a brutally unflinching honesty. The album’s second and latest single “Fall In Love” is centered around propulsive and forceful drumming, shimmering synth arpeggios, Solomon’s ironically detached vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to A Flock of Seagulls, the aforementioned New Order and others, the track is a skeptical — if not overtly cynical — take on love and romantic relationships, while featuring a narrator, who has a distorted and self-loathing view of themselves.
“People my age are skeptical of love because we see how many previous generations got divorced or went through painful experiences,” the band’s Sean Solomon says in press notes. “The song is about being afraid to fall in love because of expecting heartbreak. it’s about hating yourself too much to open yourself up to someone else. It’s a bummer of a song lyrically, but it’s pretty fun to dance to!”
Directed by the band’s Sean Solomon with additional animation by Sarah Schmidt, the recently released video is a psychedelic and fever dream-like depiction of a romance between two young people that seems doomed to fail. “I made the music video in my bedroom a couple of weeks ago,” Solomon recalls in press notes. “It’s a psychedelic depiction of an imaginary romance. It’s inspired by early experimental animations like Belladonna of Sadness and Heavy Metal. Both the song and the video are perfect for everyone feeling like shit this Valentine’s Day.”
Moaning will be embarking on a West Coast and Southwestern tour to build up buzz for and eventually support Uneasy Laughter. Check out the tour dates below.
4/7 – San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s *