Youthmovies. There. Now that’s out of the way we can make a start. While that may sound flippant and like it’s brushing aside one of Oxford’s most sorely missed bands it just seems apparent that Pet Moon’s Trashnicolour deserves to be judged on its own merits and absolutely in the present tense. While the first half of the mashed up title might suggest something scuzzy and messy it couldn’t be further from what is on offer here. In truth, Pet Moon have gifted us with an EP that seems to revel in the glittering and the pristine.
The first half of this six-track EP is a both-barrelled approach: Beats are exuberant and powerful whilst Mears’ impressive vocal acrobatics soar without compromising on strength or delivery. ‘Superposition’ really sets the scene here while ‘Hold The Divide’ is an early highlight with its dreamy peaks and troughs. The melodies throughout reach a careful balance between satisfying and singable whilst also remaining challenging and unpredictable. We get our first real taste of a skittering guitar line which bobs and weaves without outstaying its welcome.
What is certainly worth mentioning at this point is how Pet Moon resist retreading well-worn stylistic ground: Glistening pads are well-placed without becoming too much of a distraction and synth bass unobtrusively bolsters songs that are simply very well put together. The mixing and pacing deserves particularly high praise with the latter being especially important. Countless ten-track albums have been botched together from far less content than is available on Trashnicolour and consequently Pet Moon rescue us from having to wade through any unnecessary padding with the whole thing being just shy of twenty-five minutes.
Guitar parts range from sparse and minimal texturing to outrageous and this instrumental approach is perhaps what lies at the heart of Pet Moon’s proposition: Nothing jumps out at you in the mix and tries to hog your attention but you’re constantly lulled and buoyed by your surroundings. It’s kind of like when seeing people in movies driving down the Las Vegas strip with a never ending array of neon lights melting away into the backdrop if you’ll excuse the piss-poor analogy. Yes, the blistering riffs at the end of ‘Hold the Divide’ are impressive and great to listen to but it seems more like a little part of a larger machine; it become more impressive when you take a couple of steps back to take it all in. It’s probably the most convincing argument as to how guitars can continue to be a relevant musical tool in 2013 when frantic riffs can be thrown out like arpeggiated synth lines.
‘___’ (track name, not an indifferent looking emoticon) offers a sub-minute breather before ‘Impossible Muscle’ quickly gets things moving again. Vocal harmonies here are particularly strong and Mears’ pointed enunciations allows him to really take charge of the cacophony beneath him. At the three minute mark the instrumentation falls into single file as Mears and Scuteri’s wonderful backing vocals take a back seat. This is a great moment of simplicity and the attention to detail that in regards to beats and movement is nothing short of excellent.
‘Ganger’ is a closing track that releases you from its grip gently: It’s a slow starter but what ensues is worth the wait. The structure is more befitting of an ambient and droning piece makes the little electronic flourishes that litter the track all the more effective. Distant choral textures, glistening minimal keyboard lines and deep guitar swells all intermingle for what is an engrossing finale.
To sum up, Trashnicolour is very much an EP that stretches out into all kinds of ambitious directions without ever breaking the comforting spell that is casts over its listener, thus striking the ideal balance between engaging and enjoyable. It bodes well for a band that continue to sound more assured and comfortable in their own skin and while we can only hope for an album in the near future this will certainly do just nicely for now.