Black Moth Super Rainbow // Eating Us
It must have become clear at some point in the beginning stages of planning their fourth album that something had to change for Black Moth Super Rainbow, that perhaps they had taken their sound as far as they could and needed an upgrade. It sounds like they got tired of making music in a dingy basement filled with melted candles and old pizza boxes and figured it was time to move to the big leagues. To that end, on Eating Us they've paired with Flaming Lips/Mercury Rev producer Dave Fridmann and made a record that is far slicker and pro sounding than anything they've done before. Whether you, as a fan of their previous work, want to follow along might depend on how you feel about the opening track, "Born on a Day the Sun Didn't Rise," sounding like it's a Robert Plant vocal shy of being a track from Led Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door. The drums are thunderous, the synths are clear and soaring, and the song is crisply hooky; in fact, if it weren't for Tobacco's vocodered vocals you might not even peg it as a BMSR song right away. As the album goes along, though, the band's unique vision asserts itself despite the application of a fair amount of studio gloss. They still hand out enough sticky sweet, slightly creepy pop candy to supply a whole neighborhood's worth of Halloween treats, and provide more than enough glowing melody and sonic weirdness to satisfy the basic requirements of a BMSR record. The addition of organic instruments like acoustic guitar and live drums seems like a bad move at first, but they end up meshing with the cheap synths very well, and Tobacco's vocals are somehow more effective when juxtaposed with them. The contrast gives songs like the elegiac "Gold Splatter" some emotional power that was unavailable on previous albums. It certainly doesn't make the record boring or overblown to have a little more scale and dimension given to the group's sound — you can see how a little of that might come in handy when writing songs about "Tooth Decay" and "Iron Lemonade" — not enough pomp to make them sound like Coldplay for sure, but enough to show that they won't just keep making the same (admittedly great) record over and over. On Eating Us, Black Moth Super Rainbow prove that they can grow up a little without growing boring, and still deliver exactly the same amount of unhealthy sweetness as before.