When writing an album review, one generally should give an album at least three listens before putting any words on paper. After all, without listening to an album enough times to begin uncovering some of its hidden joys, the review will be generic and bland. It is our belief that this is a fairly common piece of knowledge, at least among the kind of people that spend their days reading album reviews on random blogs.
That being said, this review is simply our first thoughts on Moon Taxi’s newest release, Mountains Beaches Cities. The album came out September 10th, but was available to stream a week beforehand. By the way, Moon Taxi will be playing Live on the Green tonight (September 12), so be looking for our coverage of that.
The album kicks off with “Running Wild”, a single which first surfaced back in early July. The track is consistent with much of Moon Taxi’s earlier works in its brilliant songwriting and undeniable catchiness, but it’s hard to avoid a feeling of invasive commercialization and pop sensibility that was largely absent in Moon Taxi’s two previous studio albums. Of course, “Running Wild” is the single, so this should have come as no surprise.
The album continues with “Morocco”, which reminds one surprisingly of fun. Not fun like the emotion of enjoyment, but fun. the band with that one “We Are Young” single. “Morocco” and “We Are Young” are certainly not comparable when looking simply at the musical composition, but the overall vibe of the two songs are just so similar.
Track 3, “The New Black”, has already proven to be the hit tune from Mountains Beaches Cities. On the same day the album was released, the world also saw the premiere of a video for “The New Black”. The song is danceable, if slightly repetitive, and will most definitely be one of their most popular live tracks. Also, there’s a really nice guitar solo, something that’s hard to dislike.
The album makes a remarkable turn around the fifth song, “Young Journey”, which is less Foster the People and more Simon and Garfunkel. There’s more substance than the folk duo ever really had, but the vocal melodies and stepwise descents in a lot of instrumentation help to give “Young Journey” that homey, organic feel so intrinsic to folk music.
Right after “Young Journey” is “Beaches”, which marks a sharp turn from an acoustic, folk feeling to an expansive electronic feeling. The song hits all aspects of the electronic music scene; some parts have thundering drums and a muddy base, while others are snare heavy. The entire track is built on a sweeping, calming pad tone, which makes the sonic field feel enormous (perhaps explaining the name of the song). The ending is also quite climactic.
The album officially ends with “Juniper”. Between the slow tempo and the amusingly 80s snare, it might be hard for fans of Moon Taxi’s earlier works to get into “Juniper”. However, that’s the thing about this entire album. It marks a distinct change in Moon Taxi’s sound; this is not necessarily a bad change and chances are that fans both old and new will find Mountains Beaches Cities much to their liking. Simply put though, don’t be expecting this album to be Cabaret 2.0.