Monday, 3 December 2018

Album Review: Lanterns by Moonraker


Moonraker are a band I've been aware of for a while after seeing two of the members help out Not Half Bad at Fest 15. So when their brand new album Lanterns appeared in my inbox I have to say that I was very intrigued to check them out. Moonraker are a band situated in California who have prolifically been releasing music together since 2011. Lanterns is their newest album and it was released in September on Tiny Dragon Music.


Lanterns begins with the song One Trick Phony. After a creepy laughing introduction we jump straight into a fast paced punk jam about everything always going wrong and becoming used to it. The use of dual vocals on the track does a brilliant job of adding an extra jolt of electricity into the song, making sure that the album gets going in some style. I loved It's My Turn To Be Somebody Now, Nathan! from the very first time I listened to it. It's packed full of fantastic lyrics and has this energy about it that just makes it oh so infectious. You will get swept away by this song. My favourite lyrics of the song are "the past always looks bright if you squint your eyes, and the future looks just fine if you lie." Another part of the song I really liked was the dual vocals, with a cleaner and a raw vocal coming together and being ace. The track is about feeling like you are competing with people to have the best life you possibly can and it not going very well. Track three, To The Gills, begins with some quiet spooky lyrics saying "you'll have to pry my cold dead hands from this wagon, when the wheels fall off then we'll just have to drag it" before the song starts properly and then doesn't relent for the entire track. There's an intensity that reminds me of Direct Hit and those dual vocals scream Lawrence Arms. It's all good. Ram The Blade Ship is a piece of pop punk perfection. It goes along at a ridiculous pace but it's so full of hooks and catchy lyrics. Moonraker's Nick Shambra and David Green work together spectacularly well on the vocals, whether it's trading lines or harmonising, it's all superb. Pop punk song of the year?

The fifth song is titled War Were Declared. This song instantly feels like Moonraker have gone down a more mature road. Switching from the relenting pace, this track is more melodic and seems designed to get you to think about its meaning. There's every chance I'm wrong but I think the song is about how people's inability to change and grow causes unnecessary battles. Gin And Jews begins quietly with a chugga-chugga guitar riff that I joked reminded me of the intro of Eye Of The Tiger. Once we get past this intro we get a delightfully wordy track that hooks you in very quickly. "Wordy" is definitely a theme for Moonraker songs and they continue to prove themselves to be superb lyricists throughout Lanterns. The verse that really stands out on Gin And Jews is "I'm so scared you might know everything I'm scared of, and I'm so sorry I can't say it to your face, when six states over on a barstool next to strangers, I can't stop confessing all of my mistakes." The track is about using alcohol to hide yourself from your friends but being able to confess everything to strangers. They Called Me Mr. Glass is a big highlight on an album that seems to provide hit after hit. It begins slowly with a short piano led introduction giving it a sombre start before we are lead into an up-tempo track that puts a nice spin on the Lawrence Arms sound. I imagine this track to be phenomenal live with that slow start getting a big sing along before everyone goes crazy when the song really gets going. It's about always going out and getting drunk and having someone who will look after you, no matter what.

A Memoir really slows things down. It's a sad and sombre sounding track about feeling as if you have wasted your life. Lyrically, again Moonraker are on top form as they paint a picture that I'm sure a lot of people can easily relate to. I'd be shocked if there isn't at least one line in this track that doesn't make you think "that sounds like me." When I first listened to the ninth song, Hurricanes, it had me thinking of 90s skate punk with that melodic guitar introduction. From there, Moonraker move towards their own style musically but the lyrics are delivered in more of a sharp punchy way. I really enjoyed how Moonraker seemingly blended two different influences on the song to create something pretty fantastic. The song is about sticking with something or someone through thick and thin no matter how crazy things get. The penultimate track on Lanterns is named Seven Different Kinds Of Smoke. Looking at the lyrics and the length of the song (one minute twenty seven seconds) I expected the song to be crazy fast. And there are parts that are but interlaced between the speed are some brilliant melodic sections that help to break the song up slightly. Seven Different Kinds Of Smoke is about having a dad who constantly let you down in order to help out other kids and deciding to cut him out of your life. Speaking as someone who is estranged from two fathers this song hit hard and again I'm sure plenty others will relate. Lanterns is completed by The Well. The first half of the song is this brilliant building section. Musically it's so simple and the build gives the track a great intense feeling, leaving you urging the song to shift into the next gear. When it eventually does, you get some of the best raspy vocals on the album again beautifully harmonised with an evener rawer vocal – what an effect this makes! The song and the album ends with the line "you won't see it coming, you'll just hear.… fucking nothing." What a perfect way to finish an album.

Lanterns will no doubt be in my top ten albums of 2018. I think it's incredible. I don't have much else to say about it other than go and listen to it immediately!

Stream and download Lanterns here: https://tinydragonmusic.bandcamp.com/album/lanterns

Like Moonraker here: https://www.facebook.com/moonrakerpunx/

This review was written by Colin Clark.