Moon is the debut album from Snowbird, a duo featuring Simon Raymonde of Cocteau twins, Stephanie Dosen of Massive Attack, and guest appearances by members of Midlake and Radiohead. Their new album is slated for release on Bella Union, Raymonde’s label and primary focus since Cocteau Twins parted ways in 1997.
The spotlight of Moon shines on the grand piano, which serves as a tool for Snowbird to craft unpretentious pop songs that feel familiar without being derivative. Songs like “Charming Birds From Trees” and “Amelia” feature sparse instrumentation and drowsy piano chords, acting as a backdrop for Dosen’s airy vocals. With its fragile melodies, Moon could best be described as an exercise in creating mood music. It’s impressive that Raymonde and crew were able to accomplish this feat successfully, given the press release’s admittance that the record was created “via the wonder of technology”. While the divide between the tracks recorded with the full group and the ones only featuring Raymonde and Dosen seems clear, Moon still manages a natural flow that feels effortless and doesn’t depend too heavily on said technology.
While the majority of the album is very piano centric, there are a few tracks that reach well beyond the voice-and-keys blueprint. Opener “I Hear The Owl Calling My Name” is a beautiful exercise in circular songwriting. Dosen’s vocals are treated with a heavy delay that mirrors the track’s tempo, creating a dizzying sensation that serves as a near-perfect first track. “Come To The Woods” is a slow waltz that ends with a jarring guitar solo, likely contributed by Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien. Final track “Heart Of The Woods” features a drum machine, with layered guitars and horns fading in and out of the song. If not for these moments, Moon could run the risk of feeling repetitive, but Raymonde and Dosen very tactfully introduce these instruments without detracting from what makes the songs so beautiful in the first place – strongly crafted lyrics and melody rooted in pop classicism.