Album Review: Half Moon Run – Sun Leads Me On

Sun Leads Me On

Released 23rd October 2015

halfmoonrunWords: Gary Lambert
Usually it would be fair to expect an
album to have an opening trio of songs which would provide the skeleton for the current style of the band and create their own musical signature. After the opening three tracks of Sun Leads Me On, I felt battered and confused in the most excellent fashion as after ten minutes of enjoyable listening I did not have a clue as to what 2015’s Half Moon Run really sounded like or what was going to follow.

Opening track, Warmest Regards, starts out like Leonard Cohen minus the sarcasm (and misery for those who always miss the smile in his voice), but then softens as a more Jeff Buckley inspired vocal comes into the mix. From then on it sounds like a competition from the two most famous singers of Hallelujah as they each take to the mic in an attempt to soothe the listeners confusion better than the other. It is a wonderful opening track from my perspective and got me excited at the idea of an entire album of this.

With that thought in mind, I was then quite surprised to hear the aptly-named I Can’t Figure Out What’s Going On did not follow this style. If you would like a listening benchmark I would say Mumford and Sons without the overly busy rhythm created by the banjo. I assume it’s a banjo anyway, I am a music fan not a musician. Full of harmonies and mellow guitar, I thought to myself that maybe the previous track was a showing off quirk to ease the listener in and this was the track that would form the motif for the album; Folk without the farmyard sounded a good vibe for me.

And then third track, Consider Yourself (not an Oliver! cover thankfully) came on and I had to give up the ghost of making predictions as to what this album was going to sound like and just get on with the enviable task of listening to it. We had now moved into keyboards and electro-tinted indie which even had the audacity to not stick to one rhythm through its short lifespan. Just as my ears had settled to a slow, steady rhythm we got a blast of rock and fuzz reminiscent of the most unhinged moments of Muse’s Origin of Symmetry but squeezed into a minute and a half rather than anything elaborate.

The strange this was though that even though the style and structures of the songs were very different, there was definitely a connection. It did not feel like the musical equivalent of an actor’s head shots showing the subject’s ability with different emotions, characters and costumes. Instead the feeling was that this is a band who do not just love playing their music, but love music in general and want to make an album that they will enjoy ahead of anybody else.

I am not going to go through every song on the album in detail because I think you should go out and investigate this album. But needless to say the variety in songs continues without going to the weirdness of a hip-hop number or a bit of sludge or grindcore. There is one thing that unites the tracks on Sun Leads Me On, the songs sound uplifting. Without doing deep investigations into meanings of lyrics you can sit with this record playing and feel it in your chest rather than in your toes and it makes you smile. If you think that is the kind of album you need, let the sun lead you to your nearest record store.

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Listen to I Can’t Figure Out What’s Going On here:

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