Moose Blood’s rise to the forefront of the UK emo / punk scene has been rapid, beginning early last year with the bands excellent debut EP Moving Home. From here the band released a split with the equally excellent Departures, toured with Funeral For A Friend, and signed to US label No Sleep Records, home to the likes of Broadway Calls, Balance & Composure and No Trigger. Not bad considering they’d yet to release their debut record. There’s a reason the Kent quartet have become a big deal over the last twenty months or so, and their triumphant debut full-length I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time To Time seems to highlight all of these reasons whilst bringing in many more, as if the bands position as one of the UKs brightest prospects needed further justification (it didn’t).
As far as British emo / punk music goes, I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time To Time is as good as it’s going to get this year. For a genre that often struggles in comparison to its US counterpart Moose Blood have shown that the scene over here still has plenty to offer. The band’s debut does take some influence from artists across the pond, as most do, and it’s something they’ve never made a secret of; Moose Blood wear their heart on their sleeve and their influences beside it. I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time To Time is a record created from the records which undoubtedly shaped its creators. There’s a risk that this might make things feel familiar, but their debut is refreshing in that it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than it is, and it doesn’t need to. With numerous references to other artists (Nirvana, Death Cab For Cutie, Morrissey, Brand New, Jimmy Eat World and more) Moose Blood know who their idols are, and the record is never a cheap imitation of their peers. A few of these allusions are found on Bukowksi, which has been reworked in a way which makes it much cleaner, tweaked almost to perfection, and when it erupts for an instrumental climax it’s ecstatic, impossible not to sing along to beforehand. I preferred the older version of the song, I liked the rawer edge, but it’s arguably the best track on the record here, preceded by highlight Swim Down, which opens with vocals over sparking guitars, momentum and anticipation building before it explodes immaculately, ending with one of the best minutes on the record as lead vocalist Eddy Brewerton shouts ‘Let me hold your hair, we can talk about our favourite band and how Nevermind still blows me away’, aided by a glowing, powerful accompaniment.
Both of these songs, amongst others, showcase the instrumental side to Moose Blood’s music which, for me, has always been stronger than the lyrical and vocal aspect of their songs – think Evening Coffee. The lyrical side of I’ll Keep You In Mind… isn’t particularly outstanding, and when the band peak instrumentally they peak musically, and very few bands in music do gorgeously energetic crescendo’s like these guys. You’ll find several of these moments on each track bar the opener, and you’ll probably enjoy each of them – these soaring sections are uplifting, full of warm life as they crash and climb, be it on anthemic second track Anyway or the bouncing Weezer-esque Pups, both of which are excellent. Moose Blood have no qualms with substituting a chorus for an instrumental focus, and it’s a testament to the bands ability as musicians and songwriters that they can make something so effective without the need to express it vocally. The Carbis Bay-like Gum builds from nothing into something special, displaying some of the little tweaks that set Moose Blood’s music apart, and I’ll Keep You In Mind… is full of these subtle touches; it doesn’t settle for anything less than its best, with Chin Up impressively confident and third track I Hope You’re Missing Me towering, slightly darker in nature.
Opening track Cherry opts for a different approach than the rest of the record; it’s a slow, thoughtful song, minimal as Brewerton sings over a lone guitar, lamenting time spent away and growing up in the process (‘Look at me now I’m engaged to be married, I’m only 23 and I’ve got myself a family’). It’s a vulnerable, delicate track, much like Soco Amaretto Lime (you know the one), and it’s a contrast to the records last track I Hope You’re Miserable, which is everything a punk finale should be, a grand middle finger backed up by bold, sweeping instrumentation, with a second verse complemented by thick bass and the records best use of secondary, harsher vocalist Mark Osborne. As the lines ‘I’ll keep you in mind, from time to time / like the rain in the summer’ ring out Moose Blood have rarely sounded better, and although there aren’t too many stand-out, memorable lines on the album this is one of the finest, falling towards the end of a season-spanning heart-wrencher impossible to resist, for better or worse. It’s humbling, but there’s also a great deal of energy to it, and this balance is another of the records stronger aspects; it’s anthemic, but it’s grounding also. Listening to it, it’s an experience, and as you reach the final minute of the last song, acoustic like the album began, you’ve been taken on a journey, pulled along in the emotional current that flows through Moose Blood’s debut, with tenth track Kelly Kapowski the only selection which didn’t quite hold me under.
Moose Blood, quite simply, have nailed it with I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time To Time, which is right up there as one of 2014’s best releases. It’s anthemic, cathartic and emotional, packed with highs and lows, with its fair share of swells and skyscraping infection also. It’s a huge development on earlier works which sees the band up their game significantly, and they’ve struck gold here in doing so, keeping the quality of the preceding EPs and giving their sound a fuller, more professional makeover, meaning that you’ll find few records which make a mark in the way that this one does; it’s instantly likable, and it’s very difficult to shake once it’s been absorbed. If Moose Blood are the future of UK emo / punk then the future is very bright indeed; I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time To Time is a floodlight.
Listen to: Cherry / Bukowski / I Hope You’re Miserable