True Moon Reinvigorate darkwave with a Blend of Post-Punk and Pop.
Hard-hitting, lugubrious and nostalgic, Swedish darkwave band True Moon’s self-titled debut released last November and is currently sold out of physical copies online. Good thing it’s still available for digital download through Lövely Records because it’s certainly worth the download. Fronted by vocal powerhouse Karolina Engdahl, the album reinvigorates an inveterate genre only topped by the likes of Joy Division, Killing Joke and Siouxsie and the Banshees. With a taste of modern alternative rock, True Moon establish their musical dominance with a delightful blend of anthemic new wave and ’70s-’80s moody post-punk. It would be easy to state that this album will become a staple for 2017 summer playlists; it takes the term “industrial rock” to a whole new level by paying homage to the band’s musical influences.
The first track, “Voodoo,” starts off rugged and fast. One of the most captivating songs on the album, Engdahl’s vocals could easily be mistaken for Siouxsie. Paired with an enthralling music video co-produced by the vocalist and bassist herself, the song makes for the perfect single. Engdahl, who is involved in Swedish acts such as Vånna Inget, skillfully commands everything from the bass to lyrics and vocal performance.
Colloquial but characteristically inherent, the minimalistic approach taken towards “Voodoo” is like an outline for the rest of the album, showing how far the band have taken this particular sound and forged it into their own unique brand of rock. There aren’t very many groups coming out in this genre nowadays. There have been the likes of bands such as Cold Cave in more recent years, but darkwave has mostly remained underground, with very few instances of it dipping into mainstream music culture.
Every track is worth at least one listen, but songs that stand out in particular are “Sugar,” “Run, Run, Run,” “Just Like Smoke,” “Guns” and “Honey.” Their tone and implementation make it easy to identify direct influences that informed how the band chose to develop their musical harmony. And “Sugar,” the fourth song and second single on the album, expertly showcases the craftsmanship of the group as a whole. The chorus is eerie and haunting, but this doesn’t stop it from drawing in the listener. The simple, accompanying video aids in exposing the rawness of Engdahl and her bandmates. “Run, Run, Run” draws on primitive, humanistic urges lyrically and emotionally while tapping into basic, to-the-point choruses. When paired with a distorted electric guitar solo effortlessly molded behind the vocals, “Run, Run, Run” is one of the album’s most existential tracks, both highly cataclysmic and woefully endearing. The emotional pain the vocalist conveys in the chorus is supported by this somber but slightly angry pop-punk aesthetic that True Moon derives itself from.
“Just Like Smoke” is so largely reminiscent of the early years of the Cure. The bass and fast-clicking drums help carry yet another dark atmosphere intertwined with bubblegum pop. Engdahl’s voice ranges from monotone mumbles to ramped-up, screechy loudness that is as fluid as rain water going down a storm drain. After only ten seconds in, it’s impossible not to bang one’s head — the song is so musically enticing. Then, “Guns” slows down the tempo, but the dark emotional feeling is all the same. A cathartic track, the post-punk rawness is stripped away in favor of a groovy, almost funky melody. But although the melody has some funk, it stays true to the album’s darkwave roots and tone. The next song, “In the Dead of Night,” happens to jump right back into ’80s-influenced pop-punk, though, so the change is pretty short-lived. “Honey” is the shortest standout track, supported by subdued bass and equally subdued vocals. It almost sounds like a cross of modern indie band Beach House and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. What is especially pleasing about this album is that, while it is a simple work of art, it was recorded and performed immaculately, with repetition inevitably being used to the band’s advantage. All in all, it’s pretty difficult to find any cons or negatives on this album.
True Moon’s debut might be dark and gloomy, but everything about the execution is catchy all the same. Darkwave is often overlooked and underrated, even with so many bands being influenced by it. Headed by a powerful and standout opening track, the lyrics, vocals and overall musical craftsmanship of True Moon will keep listeners engrossed across its ten songs. Long story short, the album just gets better and better as you go.