Poor Moon is a Fleet Foxes side project comprised of Christian Wargo and Casey Wescott, as well as members of Crystal Skulls and The Christmas Cards. On their self-titled debut LP, the group strips away the bulk of the pristine harmonies that have become the trademark of their original outfit in favor of a lower-budget, faintly sinister retro-folk sound.
Where Fleet Foxes’ harmonies glisten like a clear Seattle sunrise, Wargo and Wescott’s voices play off one another in a darker manner. A thin layer of fog coats most of the album’s ten tracks, leaving it heavily indebted to mid-’60s pop masters like The Zombies and The Animals and more recent haze-pop revivalists like Real Estate. On first single “Holiday”, Wargo doesn’t sound quite at home in his new role as a frontman. As is the case throughout Poor Moon, his vocal delivery is too timid, almost as if he’s waiting for Robin Pecknold to swoop in at the beginning of the next verse. Too bad he never actually does.
“Phantom Light” hears Poor Moon ponder the meaning of a flickering candle in the home of a long-deceased old man. It’s an eerily beautiful picture, one that Wargo himself doesn’t fully understand. He stands beside you, asking the question: “I wonder how it burns that way.” He sounds curious with a hint of trepidation, resulting in one of the few truly engaging moments on the album. The rest of Poor Moon mostly drifts along as aimlessly as a feather caught in the breeze.
Fleet Foxes diehards will eat Poor Moon up with a spoon. The album’s delicate hippie-folk instrumentation mixed with the occasional bit of quirky charm (take, for example, the cricket solo on “Clouds Below”) will be enough to satiate fans until Pecknold & co. get around to recording LP3. For the rest of us, however, the album offers little more than a pleasant walk through the park on a summer afternoon. It’s easy and buoyant, but not sound enough to stay afloat for much longer after the record ends.
Essential Tracks: “Phantom Light”