Over the past couple of years of this site’s almost ten year history — yeah, 10 years, y’all! — I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the rapidly rising Los Angeles-based 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.
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 — to some ears — recalled the likes of Joy Division, Interpol and Preoccupations. Now, as you may recall, the trio’s highly-anticipated Alex Newport-produced and engineered sophomore album Uneasy Laughter is slated for a March 20, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records. The album is reportedly a much more collaborative effort than its immediate predecessor, that finds the band actively brightening the claustrophobia and uneasy sound of their debut, with the band 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 deeply personal and the 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.”
So far I’ve written about two of the album’s released singles: the brooding, 80s New Order-like single “Ego,” which featured a desperate narrator taking stock of himself and his relationships to others with a brutally unflinching honesty — and the cynical A Flock of Seagulls-like “Fall In Love,” which featured a dysfunctional narrator, who’s ruled by distortions, self-loathing and the expectations of failure. Interestingly, Uneasy Laughter’s third and latest single is the explosive, guitar-driven ripper “Make It Stop.” Centered around angular and distorted power chords, an enormous hook and propulsive drumming, the track features a depressed narrator, who’s stuck within his own obsessive compulsive thoughts and can’t seem to find a way out from himself and his own worst instincts. Certainly, if you’ve ever been in the throes of depression, the song would feel eerily familiar, evoking the dark and fucked up places your mind can go when things seem bleak.
“The song is about questioning negative thoughts, but struggling to find a solution. Being stuck in your head,” Moaning’s Sean Solomon says in press notes about the song. “There was a period of time where I thought everyone hated me and was out to get me. Now, I realize no one actually is putting that much energy into thinking about me at all. Depression can be extremely narcissistic. I encourage people, who relate to this song to call someone and ask for help.”
Directed by the band, the recently released video features an enormous collage the band made. “The whole band made a collage for the video. It was really fun piecing different elements together,” Solomon explains in press notes. “We’ve also added some extra surprises. The dimensions of the collage are 1920 by 40,000 pixels. It’s a big ass thing!”