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The Orange Billboard

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Album Review

Will the indie pop melody well ever run dry? Maybe, but in the meantime Moonbabies have busted the pipeline, and it's overflowing in their basement. Harmony, warm melody, and clever studio trickery color every inch of The Orange Billboard, Ola Frick and Carina Johansson's second full-length; its songs seem stung by a pinpoint of heat and filtered through a long prism, their elementary pop structure and crackling electronica jumbled into a dizzy rainbow of bewildering detachment. Are these people from Sweden or some kind of super-hip Candy Land? The verses of "Fieldtrip USA" run on a gentle acoustic guitar figure and what sounds like a sound effect from the Windows operating system; the image blisters, snaps, and blurs before downshifting Notwist-like into a pulsating indie rock bass groove. "Sun A.M." is even better, a blissfully perfect synthesis of sun-kissed twee and mouse-click bedroom electronica. "I become you," Frick sings in his cracked, plaintive falsetto. "Just wait and see us/Nine years from here/And I follow you." And what's senseless in print is butterflies-inducing genius in the studio. "Crime o' the Moon" bounces along on a jaunty organ and xylophone chimes, inserting snippets of strings in a 21st century rebroadcast of Beatles psychedelia, while the instrumental "Jet" is a whirring and buzzing IDM cute-bot. (Just for kicks, Moonbabies detonate an airburst of electric guitar squelch over the center of the song's music-box-in-reverse sweetness.) Digital burbles and hisses slowly overtake the lush harmonies and layered acoustics of "Forever Changes Everything Now," suggesting the subtle remixing of Kings of Convenience's Versus album, and the title track cinches Orange Billboard's fluttery loose ends of hushed harmony and polite pop to a kitchen sink outro of random noise bursts and announcements. By its end, Moonbabies' sophomore outing has caused a slight body ache, the sweaty but not altogether unpleasant feeling of napping under too many blankets. Indie pop has relied happily on the hug'n'kiss of melody and charm for plenty a year, and the formula has yet to fail. Still, it's heartening to find some curious souls willing to plug that sweet sentiment into greater stylistic wanderlust and groovy electronic adventurism.


Formed: 1997 in Malmö, Sweden

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Taking cues from My Bloody Valentine and Miranda Sex Garden, Sweden's Moonbabies have gained wide acclaim at home and abroad for their sophisticated hypnotic pop. Comprised of multi-instrumentalists Ola Frick and Carina Johansson, Moonbabies maneuver through new territory in the pop landscape, beautifully mixing psychedelic textures, moody electronics, and expansive instrumentals. Honing their harmonies while busking on the streets of Copenhagen in 1996, the duo would soon begin writing songs and...
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The Orange Billboard, Moonbabies
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