The Upshot: As glorious, dense and exhilarating as anything they have done so far.
BY JENNIFER KELLY
The Moondoggies’ 2010 Tidelands was a mournful shaggy beast of an album, one of the best electrified country rock albums of recent memory and shot through with exultant spates of multivoiced choral voices that uplifted it into glory, A Love Sleeps Deep coming most of a decade later (and after the 2013 Adios I’m a Ghost) reconvenes the same personnel and taps the same doggedly hopeful vein. It’s a good bit cleaner sounding than previous material and considerably less Neil-Young-amped-up-country. Lead guitar lines, played again Jon Pontrello, are particularly lucid and classic rock leaning, tilting the general aura more towards Pink Floyd than Music from the Big Pink.
The disc starts in languid, rusticated style, with “Easy Coming”’s luminous keys and arcing, intersecting guitars, a sprawling dual axe interplay that taps into the psychedelic overdrive of the Allman Brothers. The singing – that’s band leader Kevin Murphy — drifts dreamily towards falsetto; it is the single most laid-back element in the mix. All else aims towards mid-1970s clarity and sheen, over the roil and churn of a rhythm section boogie.
Caleb Quick, the band’s keyboardist alternates between an icy Rhodes and fulsome, keening Nuggets-worthy organ. His sidewinding organ riffs are especially good in back roads boogie-ing “Cinders,” one of the more overtly country songs on the disc.
A Love Sleeps Deep feels focused and well-considered rather than antiseptic; the cleanness of the mix doesn’t subtract from its visceral pleasures. Yet there’s no denying that its best cut is also its roughest, the gorgeously dissonant, guitar-grinding, blues-bending “Soviet Barn Fire,” which recaptures some of the territory claimed in Tidelands. A slouching choogle erupts in flames as bright as the title’s phrase, a beautiful surge of organ and massed voices urging whoever it is (the Russians?) to “keep on running.” It is as glorious, dense and exhilarating as anything Moondoggies have done so far,
DOWNLOAD: “Easy Coming” “Soviet Barn Fire”