Netherlandic indie collective Moss strike back with their latest gathering of tunes ‘Strike’. Formed in 2003 and with 4 albums under their belt, they boast a pearly clean guitar pop sound packed with laser-eyed introspection and just a faint lashing of brooding krautrock influences. With smartly cropped hair and thick-horn rimmed glasses, their frontman looks not unlike Brains from Thunderbirds whereas the rest of the crew look like regular 40 something schmoes from your upstreet local. The group name Moss doesn’t exactly inspire the most blazing mental images of rock n roll. Indeed, a quick aural scan of their music would lead you to believe that they were just another bog-standard indie band of Athlete proportions, and while that is partially true for a handful of their songs, they load up ‘Strike’ with enough chiming melodies and lightly hypnotic textures to keep it going for the long haul.
They power up into full gear straight away with lead single ‘The Promise’, a pounding powerhouse of jangle pop that could have been culled from Ryan Adams’ current album. Next track ‘Better Off Dead’ is a darker but just as satisfying flipside. More tortured, more tribalistic, for 6 minutes it mewls with mean, heart-mangled majesty. 3rd track ‘With You’ is something of an ill-advised oddity with up-in-the-clouds unicorn harmonies that sound irksomely close to Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac. The first half of the record has an overload of pretty melodies and passes by almost a little too pleasantly. The clean, choir-like overtones of the lead vocals ring just a little too much of Fran Healy and occasionally the music spills over into timid Travis territory although when you have a tune as gentle and lulling as ‘It’s So Hard To Keep A Secret’ I guess it can be seen as a little miserly to complain about that too much.
The ultra-tender title track is placed squarely in the middle of the tracklist and acts as a neat divider for the second half of the record which in general is a lot more dazed and daring. ‘Don’t Look At Me In The Eyes’ is beefy, fuzzed-up and anthemic. ‘Me Me Me’ takes a frozen ocean of icy cool guitar riffs and refrains and drives it down to the seabed with relentless motorik beats. ‘Kathmandu’ is mopey in the way that early 70s Pink Floyd know best. The only misstep is ‘Meet Your Maker’ which layers cheesy Kraftwerkian synths on top of a dozen other textures that don’t work. Whereas penultimate track ‘Never Try To Be Alone’ is all diffused, atomised and adrift, finale ‘My Decision’ shores it up again with another fine fusion of Neu! and Travisian worlds. The verses wince a little with their weediness but it piles nonetheless headily towards a pummelling, cruising finish. With their 5th missive, the unassuming Moss have knocked out one of the most solid releases of the year.
‘Strike’ is out now via Excelsior Recordings.