Moaning – ‘Uneasy Laughter’ album review

Moaning Uneasy Laughter album review 2020 Sub Pop

Los Angeles trio Moaning are set to release ‘Uneasy Laughter’, their second album via the legendary Sub Pop, this March. Lead singer and guitarist Sean Solomon celebrated a year of sobriety during the recording sessions and the clarity this gave his outlook on his own life as well as issues on the importance of mental health and gender inform many of the record’s subjects and themes: ‘Men are conditioned not to be vulnerable or admit they’re wrong. But I wanted to talk openly about my feelings and mistakes I’ve made’. Inspired by how his writing about giving up the drink has translated with fans young people, the record sees the band delve into a synth sound while retaining the mantra of ‘letting go of your bullshit so you can help other people and be present’.

Post-punk guitars and new wave synths signal the start of the album on ‘Ego’. With drawled vocals and introspection, Sean looks back on how drink – and the inevitable crashing comedown – made him feel: ‘The highest high, the lowest low, I want to lost my ego’; ‘I want to be anybody but myself, I want to love anybody but myself’. ‘Make it Stop’ follows with more talk of paranoia (‘I got lost in my mind, make it stop, make it stop, make it stop’) while ‘Stranger’ leans in on the kind of explosive sound that’s serving bands like The Murder Capital and Bambara so well… The increase of synths also recalls the ’80s goth scene – nowhere more so than on the album centrepiece ‘Running’, a song that covers the importance of feeling part of something and avoiding loneliness and isolation: ‘Is no one there for you? Are you the one that leaves?’

There’s a tenderness to ‘Connect the Dots’ as Sean admits ‘I want what you have’ and tries to find the strength within himself to ask for help. ‘Fall in Love’ has an arena-baiting electro intro before then taking a turn into heartbreak and summing up how it feels when you know your actions are to blame for the end of a relationship: ‘When you get to know me, you won’t want me anymore’. ‘Coincidence or Fate’, a question we all ponder from time to time, has melodic moments and a faster pace as Sean talks about the impact anxiety has on feelings: ‘How did I get here? What have I done wrong?’ ‘What Separates Us’ compares life to plagiarism in its opening line and the demons become darker as it moves along (‘there’s nothing here for you’) while ‘Saving Face’ is a poppier piece with more focus on others: ‘You want my opinion, you never will change, won’t ever admit you made a mistake’.

The closing ‘Say Something’ is short and sweet with synthesised vocals that really get to the heart of Sean’s frustrations: ‘Look the other way. What are you waiting for? Just say something’.


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