Plumbiferous Media

So Close to Life – Moonlit Sailor

Dec 20th 2009
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So Close to Life - Moonlit SailorMoonlit Sailor
So Close to Life
Score: 62

Swedish post-rock band Moonlit Sailor released its second album (and first signed album) a few weeks ago. Moonlit Sailor is a relatively young band with young members, and while it originally fit into the general indie genre, it gradually developed into a post-rock band a la Explosions in the Sky. The album itself, So Close to Life, is a generally decent album, albeit rather simple, but it is marred by a few common, but nonetheless damaging flaws.

What Moonlight Sailor clearly does best is its overall album planning. So Close to Life starts out extremely cheerily, almost obnoxiously so. From there it slowly becomes darker and more powerful, climaxing with the almost jarring accented chords of the aptly named “A Week without Sunlight.” From there, the album draws back, although never arriving at the same level of brightness as the opening track, “Sunbeams.” And while this could easily have been a perfectly simple path, Moonlight Sailor chooses the winding road, providing tracks like “Fresh Snow,” which acts as a welcome reprive from the album’s darkening.

But while the direction of the album as a whole is well planned and sufficiently complicated, individual tracks are quite elementary. Even though the overall sound is, for the most part, perfectly decent, there seems to be a set level of complexity which no section can surpass. Some sections of tracks have nice melodies, others interesting rhythms or a more complicated drum line, and still others the occasional countermelody or interesting harmony, but these are rarely combined in a single track.

So though Moonlit Sailor has created generally strong post-rock with So Close to Life, occasional flaws and lapses in creativity prevent it from being excellent. An interesting variety of instrumental approaches throughout the album provide a range of musical experiences through the best parts of most of the album, but all too often sections of individual tracks fall into repetitive sections which, even with the small musical flourishes Moonlit Sailor has adorned them with, can’t sustain themselves through entire tracks or even the long sections they occupy. This also occurs across tracks, though to a lesser degree – some of the more repetitive sections are recognizable several times during the album, perhaps shifted a bit in one direction or another.

The other problem So Close to Life suffers from is a waning ability to hold the attention of and excite the listener. While this is becoming increasingly endemic to albums, it’s always a bit disappointing to see it mar the ends of otherwise promising tracks. This certainly isn’t an issue throughout So Close to Life, as several of the better tracks, including “Fresh Snow,” easily draw attention throughout, but when it is, we’re left wishing that perhaps Moonlit Sailor could have put more of a musical oomph into certain tracks. As it is, a substantial portion of the album’s tracks deflate through their second acts, up until the ultimately unsatisfying finales.

So Close to Life certainly isn’t perfect, but there are some genuinely creative sections throughout the album. Most of So Close to Life starts quite well, and so it’s even more disappointing than it would otherwise be when it inevitably trails off. But for all of the mediocre parts of So Close to Life, there are a decent number of sections of genuinely immersive, interesting post-rock. And so, at the humming static that is the finale to “Waiting for Nothing,” while it’s clear that Moonlit Sailor hasn’t created a masterpiece, it’s at least obvious that some artistic vision went into the music.

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