’70s-influenced Indie Pop
Can You Really Find Me is a throwback to a simpler time. Night Moves wear their decidedly ’70s influences proudly on this record, and this retro quality comes across as endearing rather than contrived. From airy backup vocals to lap-steel melodies and acoustic country guitar licks, one doesn’t have to stretch too far to hear traces of Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young—both publicly-stated influences of Night Moves—in this record.
Along with this decidedly vintage vision comes a touch of modern indie—ambient swells, synth pop progressions and a consistently charismatic performance from vocalist John Pelant make up the other half of Night Moves’ identity. Core band members Pelant and bassist Micky Alfano, along with their live band members, have crafted a charming relic of days gone by, while adding some patented modern flare.
The album opens on “Mexico,” a sunny, laid-back tune deserving of its namesake. But Pelant’s emotive vocals make this one more complex, giving it a bittersweet undercurrent of sadness. Pelant’s use of vibrato and exaggerated pronunciations make for a distinct and well-crafted vocal performance that permeates all of Can You Really Find Me, starting from the opening lyrics of “Mexico.” Pelant’s vocals are occasionally lost in the thick ambience of the mix, and an otherwise catchy guitar solo doesn’t quite pop the way one might hope. But despite these minor mixing issues, the record starts on the right foot.
“Recollections” goes for a more pop-oriented vibe. The combination of jangly lead lines and Pelant’s full range on display—regularly alternating between his lower register and falsetto—give this song a distinctly more modern feel, while still sounding vaguely like a Fleetwood Mac B-side.
In addition to catchy pop tunes, Night Moves regularly explores ballad territory on this record. Songs like “Keep Me In Mind,” “Waiting For The Symphony” and “Angelina” flesh out the album, making it a layered and varied experience when listening front-to-back. “Angelina” in particular stands out, as it’s a simple song that chooses to do less, allowing Pelant’s charismatic stylings to shine through. The band are often at their best when they do this, especially when managing to still mix in synth swells and occasional haunting lap-steel melodies that are at the very heart of the Night Moves experience.
“Ribboned Skies” stands out as perhaps the most unique song on the record. Its sweeping, ambient swells during the intro fit the title well, giving the listener a vivid image of a beautiful sunset sky. The song is a loose and sprawling six minute exploration of the band’s more psychedelic influences that stands in contrast to some of the album’s tighter pop songs. The band effectively paces the album by mixing these up—“Ribboned Skies” is followed directly by the catchy and melodic “Coconut Grove.” While the former adds some diversity to Can You Really Find Me and represents the band’s proclivity for the psychedelic, it feels a bit out of place, and at over six minutes, arguably overstays its welcome.
Night Moves leave the listener on a high note with the album’s title track. It’s a slow, drawling song anchored by a twangy country-western acoustic guitar riff and one of Pelant’s patently excellent vocal performances. The song melds all of the influences explored previously, tying up Can You Really Find Me with a laid-back, easygoing curtain call.
Night Moves manage to explore new and old territory on Can You Really Find Me while avoiding the all-too-easy pitfall of feeling like a stale walk across well-treaded ground. Fans of indie pop and ’70s greats like Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young will fall in love with Can You Really Find Me as the perfect summer record.