Side project of two members of Fleet Foxes or not, Poor Moon is essentially the child of Christian Wargo, bassist/vocalist for the aforementioned band. For years, Wargo wrote and recorded songs on his own before he decided to bring along Casey Wescott, as well as Ian and Peter Murray to help bring his bank of demos and songs to fruition. Thus was born Poor Moon—a band to adapt a collection of songs into a collective album.
Naturally, with musicians from such a well-known band in the folksy/indie scene, people will be drawn to Poor Moon for its ties, but those who come looking for the vast dependency on warm harmonies and big, swelling folk sounds will have to keep on looking, because for the most part, this effort showcases folk sound on a smaller, minimalist scale. Take the first song “Clouds Below” for example, begins with some gentle guitar plucking and the soft vocals of Wargo, which meander in coolly, harmonizing with the impossibly higher backing vocal to create a serene and simple opener. This sets the tone for the album, alluding to signs of a peaceful, folksy sound.
But, the band picks it up a bit from where they leave you after “Clouds Below” especially on the third track “Same Way,” where things get groovy. One of the strongest on the album, the song employs some opening ‘ooh’s’ and is backed by strong melodic xylophonic sound as well as big echoing drums that fill the previously empty background of the song. There is a quite an enjoyable breakdown towards the end of the song that is just long enough to give you a taste of the musical ability of the members of this band and it makes you desire a bit more depth from the songs of Poor Moon. Through the rest of the album, you listen for little pieces of this depth that the band demonstrated on this song, but sadly they are in short supply. It isn’t the lengthy and full storytelling and serene folk album that feels right for the genre and it comes across as a group of songs that were forced to sound similar, as opposed to the authentic and natural production of an album.
Most of the songs are relatively short for folk numbers that are reaching to be meaningful and impress a feeling upon their listeners, which leads me to my biggest complaint about this album; there just isn’t enough on here to really make an impression on those who take a listen the first way through. With repeated listens, it’s possible to grasp and really hold on to the music that has been so meticulously laid out for its audience.