Album Review: Black Moth Super Rainbow — “Eating Us”

Courtesy of Graveface Records

RIYL: The Flaming Lips, Tobacco, Air

Track Picks: Born On A Day The Sun Didn’t Rise, Twin Of Myself, Fields Are Breathing, Smile The Day After Today

Links: Website // Myspace (full album streaming)

On “Eating Us,” Black Moth Super Rainbow have taken a step out of the Pennsylvanian woods and into the modern recording studio (under the guidance of Dave Fridmann, who has worked with The Flaming Lips, Sleater-Kinney and MGMT, among others). Normally, a band’s mode and location of recording isn’t immediately noticeable when listening to a record, but BMSR seem to make a point of reflecting their surroundings in their music. After all, this is the band that printed the following on an insert for “Dandelion Gum” (their previous record): “Deep in the woods of western Pennsylvania vocoders hum amongst the flowers and synths bubble under the leaf-strewn ground while flutes whistle in the wind and beats bounce to the soft drizzle of a warm acid rain.” Goofy, yeah, but listen to that record a couple of times and you’ll see where they’re coming from – “Sun Lips” sounds like it’d be right at home amongst the flora and fauna.

Now, two years later, BMSR haven’t altered their approach to making psych-pop so much as tweaked it to accommodate the change in environment. Gone are the sloppy, fuzzed out bass synths and analog warmth of previous records – which, given the recording circumstances, would feel slightly disingenuous anyway. Instead, we get great songs like “Born On A Day The Sun Didn’t Rise” and “Twin Of Myself,” which rely more on silky synth melodies and clean(er) vocoder vocals. The strongest moments on “Eating Us” are those that take full advantage of the high fidelity – “Smile The Day After Today,” for example, is rooted in a gorgeous acoustic melody, which probably wouldn’t have worked as well in their older, fuzzier records.

Yet, I can’t help but feel that Tobacco (the quasi-leader of BMSR and the guy behind the vocoder) was right in avoiding the studio for so long. I miss those fuzzy analog beats and the warmth that accompanies them. Sure, they’ve moved forward and shown that they can adapt to the studio, all while keeping their trademark weirdness intact – but, in my opinion, what set them apart in the first place was their willingness to experiment with lo-fi, unproduced, raw sound. BMSR have made a solid, very listenable record – but they’ve done it best when they’ve been at their grittiest.

BONUS — Ultra rad interactive music video for “Dark Bubbles” — BONUS

Kenny Hofmeister