Back in 2018, I spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Los Angeles-based indie rock/post punk trio Moaning. Comprised of Sean Solomon (vocals, guitar), Pascal Stevenson (keys, bass) and Andrew MacKelvie (drums), the members of Moaning 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 Los Angeles-based trio 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. Building upon the success of their self-titled debut, the trio’s long-awaited sophomore album Uneasy Laughter is slated for a March 20. 2020 release through Sub Pop Records. Interestingly, Moaning’s Alex Newport-produced and engineered sophomore album is a more collaborative effort that finds the members of the band brightening the claustrophobic and uneasy sound that first won them attention — mainly through trading guitars for synths and beats. Thematically, the album focuses on the everyday anxieties of being a somewhat function human in the madness that’s this 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.”
Uneasy Laughter’s first single, the brooding “Ego” will further cement the trio’s long-held reputation for crafting moody material — and while featuring guitars during a blistering solo, the song is primarily centered around shimmering synths and a soaring hook. Although “Ego” finds the band’s sound boldly moving in the direction of say, 80s New Order, the song thematically finds its narrator desperately taking stock of himself and his relationships to others with an unflinching honesty. Interestingly, the initial demo was slower and was written in what the band’s Stevenson calls “a strange time signature,” which at the time stymied Solomon’s attempt to write vocal melodies. Borrowing a MacKelvie drumbeat from a demo of a different song, Stevenson found that it fit his original song perfectly. The track was fleshed out further in practices and through passing demos back and forth, with the result “perfectly capturing every idea we wanted to play with,” says MacKelvie. “I don’t think we would have been able to approach writing a song that way before,” adds Stevenson. “We purposely avoided the impulse to add guitars to everything, letting the melodies of the synth and vocals be the focus. We wanted to embrace the songs ability to slip between genre lines.
“The lyrics are about letting go of your own bullshit to help other people. Wanting to love yourself to love others. The ego can make you feel like you’re the greatest person in the world or the worst.” stated vocalist Sean Solomon. It makes you think your problems are abnormally different which is isolating and rarely true. The song is a reminder that listening to other perspectives is important and beneficial to both parties involved.”
Directed by Ambar Navarro, the recently released video for “Ego” features the members of the band in a variety of different costumes — but at its core, the video’s protagonist takes stock of himself, his life and how he relates to others.