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What Moon Things - "The SWIM Tape" | Album Review

by Torrey Proto (@torreysbrewin)

After much delay, due to a change of label among other obstacles, Brooklyn-via-New Paltz, NY dream punks What Moon Things have finally released a follow-up to their under-appreciated and excellent self-titled debut. The band’s sophomore effort is a massive sixteen track exercise entitled The SWIM Tape that finds the duo expanding themselves in many directions, flowing with collaborative ideas and creative energy leaving many future doors open. 

This freedom to explore is evident in the engaging set of road-tested songs that culminated from the years of work the group put into it. Co-vocalists and songwriters Jake Harms (guitar) and John Morisi (drums) complement each other well and each bring distinct yet similar styles to the table. Their contributions are felt both separately and collectively throughout. Early fan favorites like the Morisi-led “17” and Harms’ “Party Down the Street,” bring a dramatic flair and show off their knack for dreamy melodies and meandering paths that linger on details from specific nights of the past, reflecting on them from a cloudy and distant perspective. As the mixtape progresses, WMT’s compositions take many unexpected detours without losing their satisfying melodies and soaring choruses; this is seen clearly through the shimmering guitar wails of “Dead Pixie.” The duo dabble in hip-hop inspired grooves on the playful sing-speak of “Gathens,” before pivoting into sludge on the standout “Sea of My Kitchen.” Regardless of the path taken, their energy and conviction never relent.

Though it can be a lot to digest, at over an hour long and is packed with a wealth of ambitious ideas, there is never a lack of engagement from SWIM; it is as infectious as it is harrowing and introspective. Where some tracks are appropriately dark and heavy, there is just as much new wave-inspired bounce to lighten things up. Billing the album as a mixtape was a move that paid off for the band as it allowed them to truly express the different sides of each of their visions, while branching out and getting as weird as they wanted. Their creative and personal connection is evident throughout, and SWIM provides an excellent snapshot of the capabilities of this young and exciting band. What Moon Things are unafraid to express themselves openly, and rarely shy away from the morose beauty in life or the ugliness of things. Their imperfect behemoth of an album serves to show just how one cannot exist without the other. Morisi and Harms find different ways to take your breath away with each track, possessing a darkly complex beauty. It is truly refreshing to find a band willing to take risks on a willfully imperfect project, rather than mail in a conventional album.