Poor Moon feature members of Crystal Skulls, Pedro the Lion, and even a couple Fleet Foxes, which speaks to the varied and soft-tempered tonality of the group. Earlier this year, Poor Moon released Illusion EP, a collection of songs that presented their solidified approach to seventies-inspired folk-rock, pointing towards heavy attention to harmonies accentuated by elements of baroque pop. Their self-titled debut plays on similarly familiar sounds while showing the diversity of the group and, due to the questionably short running time, seems to indicate their own awareness of Poor Moon functioning as a taste test.
I find myself drawn to the small details within each track above anything else. The lyrics on album-opener “Clouds Below” are “Long path leading to a mountain so high/Crickets scurry as we pass them” and, later in the track, cricket-chirps are re-appropriated as an instrument. The innocence of Poor Moon gives this track a feeling of child-like optimism that materializes in lyrics with nature-focused lyrics and calm recollection. “Holiday” has a slight bossa nova temperance to it, paired with subdued verses à la Kings of Convenience, and generally gives the impression of being snowed-in with loved ones. Also, the organ-heavy “Heaven’s Door” pushes Poor Moon past sounding like every other folk-rock foursome prototype since they’re clearly interested in exploring sounds that other bands in their genre would shy away from. Not to mention the darkness of lyrics like “with the taste of flames going down my throat” and the inclusion of menacing imagery like a man with a pitchfork.
Some songwriting may lead to the inevitable comparison between Poor Moon and Fleet Foxes, more obviously on tracks like “Phantom Light,” “Birds,” and “Come Home.” But this relationship is bound to exist since two-fifths of Fleet Foxes contribute to half of the songwriting on the album. Before they become pigeonholed as Fleet Foxes Lite, Poor Moon should be understood as a separate entity, not a side-project. This album feels more intimate and personably laid-back, giving way to a softer overall demeanor.
This record is like a small vacation, there’s nothing polarizing or challenging about listening to it and it’s pleasing to hear. Poor Moon is just one exact half-hour of crystalline alternative folk-rock and it’s brevity allows for the band to experiment with different sounds without sounding too disjointed. If the record doesn’t run a satisfactory length, go ahead and acquire their debut EP, especially since there’s no overlap with their music.