The most exciting moment on The Moon comes near the end of the title song, just two tracks into the disc. The drums drop out as the dreamy, tremolo- and reverb-drenched electric guitar fades away just as the strumming on an acoustic becomes insistently louder. Then the drums gently start up again, along with some quiet sleigh bells as the song fades out. And that's it. It's about as thrilling as the Salim Nourallah-produced album gets.

There are a few other attention-grabbing moments, like the slowly unwinding guitar solos of "Houston" and "Unraveled," which show an elegant combination of restraint and swagger. Otherwise, the emphasis is squarely on the vocals, as if the band is afraid to get in the way of Travis Hopper's songs of childhood nostalgia and longing to both get away from and return to home. That would work if he showed more confidence in his singing and if the band would just rock out for a song or two to break up the sluggish, subdued roots-rock monotony.

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Jesse Hughey
Contact: Jesse Hughey