Review: Moon King – Secret Life

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Moon King's balance combine upbeat euphoria and soothing vocals for an impressively well-orchestrated debut.

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Secret Life is the debut LP from Toronto duo Moon King, Daniel Benjamin and Maddy Wilde. Combining catchy beats and melodic vocals, Secret Life is an album to be added to  your summer playlists.

The psychedelic ‘Roswell’ starts proceedings, setting the album off to a punchy start, focusing on its electronic refrain whilst withholding Wilde’s vocals for the first minute or so. When we are graced with the melodic vocals, though, they provide the perfect complement to the track’s euphoric tone. The album’s title track continues this intensity of feeling, with Wilde’s vocals played down to a more husky tone that leaves the electronic elements ricocheting around your head.

‘Impossible’ takes the album in a slightly different direction, with a more chilled-out and rocky vibe thanks to the stronger presence of guitars. It climaxes with a catchy chorus, with Wilde crooning “it’s impossible” as it grows to an almost overwhelming intensity in combination with the track’s layering of a piano and electronic side.

‘Come Back’ features piercing vocals with an undercurrent that would not be out of place in a rainy film scene, creating a tone that sounds similar to Placebo’s dark transformation of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’.

‘Hexe’ boasts more of an angsty post-rock teenage feel, with energetic vocals climaxing to louder shouting than is present on the rest of Secret Life. It is followed by ‘Threads’, providing a punchy underground beat with a catchy hi-hat. It could probably make it as a dance track if it were sped up and vamped up in the bass department.

‘Apocalypse’ is Moon King’s go-to opening track for gigs, easing listeners into a slow and rhythmic tone before being plunged into the intensity felt on the rest of the album. If one track were to represent the overall feel of the album, it would be this one. It covers the spectrum of rhythm, changes in acceleration and Wilde’s melodic vocals that can each be found throughout the album, creating a fuzzy electronic post-rock sound. ‘Golden Age’, too, has something of the stripped-back feel experienced at the beginning of ‘Apocalypse’, distancing the track from the listener before we reach the end of the album, and ‘Medicine’.

The final track allows Maddy’s vocals to reverberate through all corners of your mind due to its echoed tone, but it does end on a quieter note than listeners may expect from the intensity of the likes of ‘Roswell’ and ‘Impossible’. It might have been nice to end with more of a bang, but the softer conclusion works too.

Daniel Benjamin described the album as ‘a collection of sad songs played with joy and energy’, a tone perfectly present on each album of the track as they combine dark lyrics with melodic vocals and exciting rhythms. They have achieved something similar to the presence of Radiohead’s dark but melodically uplifting classic, OK Computer.

Secret Life is an exciting debut, combining upbeat euphoria and soothing vocals, with catchy beats throughout. It can be rare to find a debut so well orchestrated, and Moon King have done something great with this album.

Secret Life is out now via Last Gang Records.

Originally published on The National Student.

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Third year English student, Records Editor, list maker and lover of Kinder Buenos.

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