Air and Space Museum
No matter how hard they try to hide in the purple haze of flower-child stage names and prog-rock positivity, Black Moth Super Rainbow are suddenly, obviously a sham. The quintet from Pittsburgh fooled listeners once on 2007’s Dandelion Gum, but made the mistake of trying to do it again on their latest LP, Eating Us.
Well, it’s not so much that BMSR fooled listeners back in ’07—Dandelion Gum was built rather nicely on foundations from the rambling 1960s and 1970s, dancing a tarantella to a weird blend of folk and electronics. The problem is that the band do almost the exact same things on Eating Us. And where BMSR once easily split the difference between old psychedelia and modern lo-fi indietronica (examine the 2007 song pair “Melt Me” and “Lollipopsichord”), the 12 tracks here sound far more homogenous.
From the two opening songs—”Born on a Day the Sun Didn’t Rise” and “Dark Bubbles”—much of the album consists of wavering analog synths, pounded echo-chamber drums, and lead singer Tobacco vocodering himself into femininity. Arrangement and production curiosities like the banjo in “American Face Dust” seem like afterthoughts.
Eating Us pulls back the curtain on Black Moth’s influences and contemporaries to the point where royalties should be demanded. There are all-too-obvious nods to the space rock of Space and the warped found sounds of Boards of Canada. The vocal manipulations suddenly recall toy-mic kingpin Dan Deacon, and they can’t hide how Tobacco’s songwriting here seems awfully simple for music with a psychedelic bent (“Iron Lemonade” being a rather egregious example).
Altogether, Eating Us actually sounds like the hardest album Air never made. Absolute newcomers to Black Moth Super Rainbow may appreciate how they put together moments that groove, but longtime fans and especially listeners who discovered them on Dandelion Gum will hear the band forgetting how to rein in groove to prevent monotony. The result for those folks? The most pleasant jackhammer ever placed in their earholes.