Poor Moon Illusion

The debut effort from Seattle-based quartet Poor Moon is the hybrid side-project from indie rock successors Fleet Foxes and Crystal Skulls. And, yes, they do in fact take their name from a Canned Heat song. The five-song EP features brothers Peter and Ian Murray (of the Christmas Cards) and Casey Westcott and Christian Wargo (of Fleet Foxes/Crystal Skulls) notoriety. The project began years ago as demos were sent back and forth between members. You could say it was a long-distance relationship. But, as with all such relationships, it falls short of the real deal. The vocal harmonies never quite hit the mark and, no matter how hard they may have tried to escape it, the influence of the Fleet Foxes' sound is too large to ignore, specifically in first track "Illusion" and final number "Widow," which begin and end the album on a long-winded, folksy, ambient, but monotonous note. The addition of reverb and flanger here and there doesn't help things out either. The EP picks up near the middle. "People In Her Mind" carries the most sonic diversity of the lot, flirting with a playful, Hollies-esque melody, with a more upbeat tempo than the rest of the tracks. Unfortunately, the lack of a definitive bridge or chorus causes the song to fail to reach its destination. "Once Before" carries the most vocal variation from lead singer/songwriter Christian Wargo, solidifying the fact that this EP does have a strong lyrical presence. Poor Moon's association with Fleet Foxes and Crystal Skulls both hinders and justifies this debut effort. The influence of the members' other bands is too large to ignore, offering little more than what could be a b-sides demo album. (Sub Pop)