Moon Duo struggles to find compelling grooves
San Francisco-based psychedelic rock outfit Moon Duo has been at it for awhile, and seven projects into their career, it would seem that they are starting to run out of ideas. Across their newest project, Stars are the Light, which clocks in at 40 minutes, there are only a few brief moments of reprieve from the repetitiveness and poor songwriting that plagues most of the eight unfortunately long tracks. The few solid tracks are nice and certainly have some replay value, but it’s tough to recommend the album as a whole when so much of it feels like wasted time.
“Flying” gets the album started on a negative but fitting note, introducing the band’s apparent affinity for repetition. By the middle of the song’s roughly four-and-a-half-minute runtime, One is already wondering when the album will end. Definitely not a great sign for an intro track. Fortunately, the title track eased some worries soon after, delivering very pretty vocal harmonies, great guitar parts (including an awesome mesh between the brief blasts of distortion and the clearer guitar tones) and an actual psychedelic groove. The brief hot streak continues on “Fall (In Your Love),” where elements that one might not expect to form a whole come together beautifully. The guitar that feels like it was pulled straight from a western film, calmly meandering vocals, and gorgeous synths all represent some of Moon Duo’s biggest triumphs on this project. Then, it becomes a rough ride until the final track. Tracks 4-7 are a bit of a slog (aside from “Eternal Shore”). “Lost Heads,” a nearly seven-minute struggle devoid of practically anything entertaining, is the worst offender in this series of surprisingly uneventful songs. The worst aspects of these tracks are definitely the airy and aloof vocal style that the duo attempts (it quickly becomes boring) and the length. So much of these tracks could’ve been shaved off to make them less immediately stale. Moon Duo ends the album on a high note with “Fever Pitch,” but it’s tough to make up for all the weak songwriting up to this point in the album.
On Stars are the Light, Moon Duo seems to consistently confuse the often trance-like nature of great psych-rock with pure repetition. This repetition unnecessarily elongates quite a few of the tracks on this album30 and results in a project with few highlights, a severe lack of any semblance of conciseness, a lot of hoping that the next track is better, and disappointment when it isn’t.