Published Aug 31, 2016The debut album by Mat Kerekes finds the Citizen frontman formally establishing himself as a soloist with Luna & the Wild Blue Everything, a heart-on-sleeve effort that's bound to be cherished among the passionate following he and his band have cultivated over the years.
"The Clubs / The People's Attention" is the album's most arresting cut, using the same vocal tricks featured prominently on Citizen's latest, Everybody Is Going to Heaven — multi-layered octaves and harmonies, choir-like backing voices, even some forcefully shouted lines — amid quickly shifting dynamics and a driving, thumping beat. "Direction" succeeds with elegant falsetto harmonies and a very fitting verse by Anthony Green, though like more than a few tracks on the album, it can sound a bit hollow. "My Lucky #3" has the kind of laid-back poppiness that could have made it a fit for Third Eye Blind or, oddly enough, even Train.
While the album's first three tracks are a strong start, the rest leans heavily on the Dashboard Confessional-style acoustic crooning, making most of its middle section pleasing-if-tedious; "In Every Inch, in Every Mike" and "Riding in Your Car" are some plodding examples. But that's not to say that slow and solemn is always bad. Luna spends a lot of energy being sad, sweet and sensitive, and Kerekes does that well. "From None" and "...For Anyone" bring up the rear with back-to-back sad jams that are entrancing rather than tiring. Meanwhile, "Canvas" is refreshing enough to break it up when the record starts to dip into monotony.
Though the overall production quality on Luna isn't perfect, Will Yip produced the vocals masterfully, doing well to highlight Kerekes' greatest assets. He has a distinctive and fitting voice for his genre, he's an intimate and evocative lyricist and he's great at setting a mood. Citizen remains Kerekes' more exciting enterprise, but he has plenty of potential on his own. (Independent)