The Big Moon - Love In The 4th Dimension

by Bill Golembeski Rating:9 Release Date:2017-04-07

This album certainly resets my compass. Lately it’s all been post rock minor key sonic gloom. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I quite like it. But Big Moon’s Love in the 4th Dimension is a fairly hard-hitting rock record that’s just a lot of fun to hear. It’s described as indie pop punk. Well, all right. But I just really enjoyed the album.

I suppose, seeing that this is an all-woman band from London, the logic would be to compare them to The Runaways, The Slits, The Raincoats, The Savages, Fanny, or even Patti Smith. But that’s wrong. Now, I’m going to stretch things a bit and suggest a comparison with one of my favorite long since forgotten bands, Canada’s Guess Who (who has been criminally left out of America’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame).  Now, Big Moon sound nothing like The Guess Who, but the ingredients are the same. In Juliette Jackson they have a singer, like The Guess Who’s Burton Cummings, who can sing anything. She has the similar ability to capture the joy and “good vibrations” of those early 60’s songs. I suppose she could be likened to a less frantic Fay Fife of Rezillos fame. But that just means they both have great voices. Speaking of voices, Big Moon ups the use of “backing vocals” to be a major player in the sound. In Soph Nathann, the band has a guitarist, like GW’s Randy Bachman, who knows how to show up at the exact moment and add the absolutely right bit to the song. And Celia Archer and Fern Ford provide a solid rock foundation.  Oh, by the way, The Guess Who was an all-boy band; and, yes, it’s a personal gripe of mine that they are not in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And it can be said that both bands have left us all with great music that recalls a time when rock music and life in general was just a lot more enjoyable.

The album is powerful and just a lot of fun right from the starting gun. “Sucker” has big rock sound with Juliette’s big voice with those wonderful backing voices, and then the song slows and calls back the memory of some distant radio hit from 1965, only to have the guitars return for a bit of drama. “Pull the Other One” has more the same, with, perhaps, even a better melody. Yeah, I am thinking about a less-punky (and heavier) Rezillos. That band always makes me smile. “Cupid” follows, and once again, it becomes somewhat apparent that this band works through the fusion of wonderful 60’s melodies with a modern tough rock sound. And I love those backing vocals, which are used to expand the breath of the music in “Formidable.” Then “Bonfire” consumes itself with (almost) early Kate Bush cleverness.

There’s always a problem with a new band. They start as this band down the block that has an honest and raw sound. Often, though, the product of (to quote Genesis when they were great) “The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging,” loses the initial unique fire. Martin Hannett managed to catch the spirit of Joy Division. REM tossed the early demos and insisted on their Murmur sound. Ray Davies threatened to never record again if he didn’t get another shot at “You Really Got me” without the reverb! Jack Richardson caught The Guess Who at the right moment. Well, it may be a bit of hyperbole to suggest Big Moon is in that sort of company, but I do believe they captured their ethos: a lovely pop sound that is juxtaposed to big rock music. “Silent Movie Susie” summarizes the album well. This song almost sounds like The Beach Boys. It’s that much fun. Yet the song rocks with legitimate indie attitude.

So don’t expect grungy guitars and post rock doom and gloom. Oh, there are a few bits of minor keys here and there. But this record just manages to step on notes that straddle everything that was once good about rock music and somehow thrust it into our modern world, a world that sure could use some of that sunshine of 60’s idealistic pop.

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