Head Bobbin’ Homogeneity
With psychedelic echoes and snappy blues riffs, Hanni El Khatib’s Moonlight sounds a lot like a mixture of The Black Keys and a modern John Lennon. Many of the similarities between Brothers and Moonlight are due to the fact that the Black Key’s Dan Auerbach produced Khatib’s second album, Head in the Dirt. Khatib’s third album is much less folky than its predecessors and has a lot more of that feel-good indie rock vibe. Moonlight has an upbeat, head bobbin’ homogeneity that makes the album enjoyable to listen to from start to finish. “Chasin’,” “Moonlight” and “Teeth” feature some of Khatib’s best work on the album by borrowing from the Black Keys’ knack for combining pop-like lyrics with a blues rhythm section. The heavily reverbed guitar and consistent symbols contrast with the lyrics of a persistent, hopeless romantic in order to create the overall feeling of bittersweet unrequited love.
“Mexico” stands out as the most unplugged track on the album, even if it’s just for the first few bars. It’s a clear nod to Lennon’s “Instant Karma” and “Dream #9.” “Mexico” begins slowly and acoustically with the repetition of “There’s nothing I can do to change your mind.” It builds up to crescendo of chromatic keyboards and distorted power chords in the chorus in keeps with the rest of the album.
Moonlight has a nice narrative arc appeal. The album isn’t jumbled with a bunch of songs that are good but don’t get together. There’s a distinct overall theme of one-sided romance that is present in every track on the album. While many of the songs are somewhat similar in composition, they aren’t monotonous. The chord progressions are fairly identical from track to track, but the samples and horns added in “Home” represent how Khatib mixes it up. Additionally, on “Dance Hall” and “Two Brothers” Khatib breaks away from the over encompassing rhythm guitar and allows the bass, strings and melodic riffs to show us what they got. Overall Moonlight showcases Khatib’s underrated talent in a plethora of catchy tunes.