After the delights of former-Fleet-Fox Father John Misty, here’s another intriguing offshoot: Poor Moon was founded by Fleet Fox members Christian Wargo and Casey Westcott, with the help of brothers Ian and Peter Murray. The band developed out of Wargo’s solo material written over several years, which his friends have fleshed out into a fuller sound. The songs clearly emerge from a familiar lush and earthy landscape, but are less baroque than those of Fleet Foxes, beginning like nursery rhymes written for a children’s choir. The overall sound is not as naïve as opening song ‘Clouds Below’ might suggest; apparent simplicity builds through the album into rich layers of sound full of idiosyncratic instruments (I hear tubular bells at one point), though the core remains melodic. It’s this inventiveness that stops Poor Moon from sounding simply twee or derivative of Robin Pecknold’s songwriting: they are unabashedly retro, but not predictably so. After a folky beginning, a poppier feel emerges in ‘Holiday’.
‘Waiting For’ is one of my favourite tracks, reminding me obscurely of The Turtles in its excitable climaxes, though it suggests, despite its friendly noises, depression in a relationship: ‘You’re so withdrawn, far away and gone”. In ‘Pulling Me Down’ Wargo sings “I didn’t know sadness could be so violent”; it’s a sixties approach to the doldrums, deeply catchy, like The Kinks’ ‘Sunny Afternoon’ or The Beatles’ ‘Nowhere Man’. What is clear is just how many former and current Fleet Foxes are lyrically gifted, the words coming smoothly and easily: “I want to hear your voice, completely separated from the noise” is a sweet line in ‘Bucky Pony’.
Overall, the structure of the album seems to mimic a progression into maturity: from the lullaby-like wondering of ‘Clouds Below’ and ‘Phantom Light’ we eventually reach a grown man returning from his travels in ‘Come Home’. “Won’t you come and see me in the summer?” Wargo sings, fully aware of time passing, “Come quickly, don’t waste time, I’m coming home”.
Words: Becky Varley-Winter