Follow-up to 2014's eponymous debut, 'Moon Salon' is a heavier and less whimsical offering from Rhode Island-based Arc Iris. The band have built up a worldwide following, not least due to their elaborate live performances and stage shows. Singer Jocie Adams wrote all the songs in a log cabin with no electricity or running water, trivia fans. LP on Bella Union.
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The Big Music. It’s a lot of things, from Sufjan’s ‘Age of Adz’ to every album M83 has ever made, from U2 to London Grammar, from Jon Mueller to the War on Drugs. It’s the music that’s so disproportionate from the modest of your surroundings that you keep looking around to find the crevices of sound. On their second record, Arc Iris have learned about the splendor of big music, creating a record with brazen chords and all the things that grow from them -- ‘Moon Saloon’ is motifs as theatrics, a dance-smacked pantomime of glitch and glamour.
‘Moon Saloon’ is an enticing labyrinth of sounds little and large. The juxtaposition of skittering electronics and sharpened strings on “Kingdom Come” recall the bold futurist orchestration on many an Asthmatic Kitty released, with brushed jazz percussion attempting to calm the sea of ideas. At times, though, you just want the fluorescent arrangements to spill out and go full-on majestic. “Pretending” is a wonderful slice of pantomime that borrows from as many aesthetics as possible (spoiler: brass wins).
Slower moments are absolutely necessary, so “Lilly”, while aided by twang and ascending arpeggios and handclaps and harmonies that’d have melted the hearts of the Free Design, is much needed space. At times you almost wish Arc Iris could cross a few things off the list, but how are you gonna tell a pantomime troupe to dial it down? “Johnny” sounds like Grease with too many kids in the band. It’s a great big Too Much of an album, but sometimes you just have to let the big band be.
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