Brother Moses dropped their second LP, “Desperation Pop” on Friday, bringing Jeff Goldblum-approved songs dealing with love, frustration and mortality through raucous and emotional tracks that are sure to be stage-show hits.
This is the first album since the band’s move from Fayetteville to New York City, and the influences of the city that never sleeps are unmistakable, from the sample of subway trains on “What Does It Take?” to the dreary and confined mood of “Bathroom Floor” that reminds me of my own cramped Brooklyn apartment.
My biggest concern before listening to this album was that the boys would move away from the earnest and high-energy style that defines their stage shows to the more experimental pop sound that we get glimpses of on “What Does it Take?” and “Sam & Diane,” with heavier use of samples and keys.
I was thrilled to discover that while the album does experiment with new styles, it still has the character that made me fall in love with the band in the first place.
Frontman James Lockhart continues to deliver raw, relatable lyrics and smooth vocal stylings while the album’s overall sound balances experimental methods with a clean well-produced sound that comes from the experience and devotion that Brother Moses, LLC, brings to this album.
One of my favorite new tracks, “You Don’t Get to Choose,” is a perfect example of this. The opening verse instantly reminded me of the vocals on “Hopeless,” the song that gave Brother Moses’ debut EP “Thanks For All Your Patience” its name. But the song’s chorus is something different and familiar all at once, with a polished pop melody that almost reminds me of a band like COIN.
This blending of old and new sounds coupled with the catchy lyrics makes “You Don’t Get to Choose” one of the best songs on this album, although it faces stiff competition from the bittersweet “Love Will Set You Free.” and the candid “Someone Make It Stop!”
While I was disappointed to find only seven tracks - excluding the endorsement from Goldblum - the 28-minute album packs a ton of punch and avoids my main critique of their first album, “Magnolia,” that many of the songs sounded very similar. Each of the tracks on “Desperation Pop” have common themes but a distinct character and soundscape.
The only track on the album I’m still wrestling with is the six-minute-long finale, “How Many Years?” I love the emotional message, but I initially had questions about its placement. I wanted to end my first listening of the album with the refined and upbeat sounds of “You Don’t Get to Choose” and was initially a little put off by the slow and contemplative tone of the last track.
After a few more listens, however, I think the song has won me over. It’s a bit more complex than some of the other tracks and may not be an instant favorite for those who haven’t followed the boys for years, but I think the questions about mortality and time the song asks really encapsulate the whole theme of the album. Life doesn’t last forever, so don’t give up on your dreams, whether you’re a band from Arkansas moving to New York City to keep your rock n’ roll dreams alive or a hopeless romantic looking for love.