Ride this Taxi Wherever it Goes
When a vocalist has as strong of a delivery and style as Trevor Terndrup, it’s a sin to obscure it beneath layers of indulgent jamming and unnecessary tangents. That’s what Nashville’s Moon Taxi figured out on their astounding third studio release, Mountains Beaches Cities. The elements that helped them build their loyal following are still there: a variety of instruments, electronic touches that skirt the edge of new wave (or more than skirt in some cases), capable solos, creative melodies, but this time it all fits together to support mature and excellent songwriting.
The first three songs are enough to make Mountains Beaches Cities one of the best albums of the year. “Running Wild” starts with a mellow five seconds before the band comes in full and big, but not overpowering, allowing Terndrup to woo us with his powerful, expressive and demanding voice. This southern boy is thankfully drawl-free and well aware of his talents. On “Morocco,” he effortlessly navigates the wordy verse to get to the highly singable chorus. First single “The New Black” brings to mind the Black Keys in its riff-based motif; its urgency will get your heart going. Mellower tunes like “Change” and “Young Journey” show that Terndrup knows exactly where his sweet spots live and when to use them.
At times, Moon Taxi still employs overindulgence as a technique, but here it’s with attitude (and when they back off it’s tasteful, not apologetic) as in “Beaches,” and you won’t find a niftier refrain than that in “Struck Me Down,” which makes up for its all-over-the-place main stanzas. “Suspicious” is the most ’80s-sounding of them all, but that doesn’t detract from how effective the song is as a whole. With its classic rock structure and kitchen-sink approach, Moon Taxi sounds like a less focused version of fellow Dixie boys Kings of Leon (Terndrup especially sounds like he could be Caleb Followill’s brother). With Mountains Beaches Cities, they produced a collection of songs that is worthy of the attention of anyone with warm blood running through his or her veins. An outstanding release.