Hartford purveyor of jazzy-rock music, Queen Moo, is made up of musicians Nick Charlton (drums), Oscar Godoy (guitar), Kevin O’Donnell (vocals-bass), and Jason Rule (vocals-guitar). Today, the four-piece dropped their third album, Faint Sounds of Us Hanging Out. It is their follow up to 2017’s Mean Well.
Even for a band that crafts music designed to deviate from conventional rock-and-roll expectations, Faint Sounds of Us Hanging Out is destined to be a divisive left-turn that is more introverted and opaque than its predecessors. Considering the sobering and relatively controlled Mean Well, Faint Sounds emotionally returns to the anxieties of the band’s self-titled, but sonically and dynamically finds the band in more challenging, uncharted territory.
Look no further than cold-opener “Gooey Functions”, a staring-at-the-ceiling, piano-number led by O’Donnell that completely falls apart as it escalates into a soft cacophony of trumpet and early morning jam session improvisation. While the band has never been one to adhere to conventional song structures, many of the songs here are less immediate than the ones on previous records, instead taking a more cryptic, slow-burning approach.
It’s more rewarding too. Almost designed to be a “grower”, the band has evolved inwardly in a way that should weed out any listeners merely looking for another “Cactus Romantic.” Instead, highlights like “Heartstrings”, “New Hell”, and “Faint Sounds” resonate with a muted tension and a surprising amount of clean guitar that may or may not self-destruct in angular or pummeling deviations (the “They’re gonna hit you with a construct” line at the crescendo of “Faint Sounds” is going to be a new crowd favorite). The energy level here can be decidedly more dynamic as well, with some songs still channeling those distorted, punk-ish roots, while others dabble with piano and brass in earlier, classier modes of rock music. Rather than just embrace the hooks and play the songs straight, there is an experimental nature to the craft of these songs that otherwise could have been all dolled up in Pro Tools.
For those who have witnessed Queen Moo’s unrestrained live show, Faint Sounds probably comes closest to capturing that live essence. There is a wounded and loose, anything-goes kind of recklessness that energizes the album that-if the band wasn’t so in sync and technically adept at their instruments-might not have worked in the hands of any other band, but here Queen Moo lands every instrumental flail as if they meant to do it.
Listen to Faint Sounds of Us Hanging Out by Queen Moo on Bandcamp and Spotify below: