ALBUM REVIEW: Uneasy Laughter by Moaning

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WRITTEN BY: Vince Barreras

In 2018, Sub Pop Records released the debut self-titled full length for Moaning. It was abrasive, loud, and combined different musical elements that made something of a noise rock meets post punk sound that was well received upon its release. It was one of those releases from an unknown artist that caught everyone by surprise, and the band went on to tour extensively due to it. The Los Angeles based bands second full length album Uneasy Laughter seems to rely less on those abrasive elements for a more post punk and new wave style, that’s stripped back and experimental . It’s melodic, somber, and overall really deep and layered in terms of instrumentation. 

The first track “Ego” implements a dark sounding synth pop element and mixes in a bit of new wave influence that has a nice groove and carries itself well, especially as the album’s first single. It showcases nicely what Moaning wanted to do with this record, and also the newer sound they would carry. “Make It Stop” with its rapid change in tempo and volume really begins to ramp up the record and showcases more the post-punk side the band is known for while implementing different sounding guitar rhythms. “///” is an interlude with a combination of drums and different loops that leads into “Stranger” a cold wave sounding song with lyrics of alienation and uncertainty, it’s reminiscent of an old Chameleon’s song. “Running,” with its dark instrumentation, and haunting vocals continues to carry the mood moving into “Connect the Dots” which incorporates more dream pop like elements but utilizes an ambience and space that the synth creates for the rest of the instruments to breath. It’s a very clever take on a track that is able to incorporate plenty of influence that really makes for something new and innovative. 

“Fall In Love” is sincere, honest, and above all intimate. Its twinkly and at times dark instrumentation helps move the song. “Coincidence or Fate” has more new wave elements within it but sets itself apart by incorporating really bright and powerful guitar lines that sound distinct. “What Separates Us” continues to use a similar electronic pallet as “Connect the Dots” that was found on side A. Elements of New Wave and really present cold wave like guitars are utilized, riddled in some distortion to give it a spacey feel. The standout of this track is toward the latter half where all these strange sounding noises begin dominating the mix. It’s a kind of beautiful sounding noise that’s both romantic but sinister. The track blends nicely into “//////////” which attempts to break up the chaos into another interlude track. It’s ambient, it’s spacey, and really retro sounding. It’s as if you are standing at the edge of the world overlooking the horizon. It’s a song you listen to as the sun sets over a busy city. It attempts to drown out the noise.

“Keep Out” ramps up the synthesizers and makes them the dominant force within the song. It never breaks character and stays consistent. “Saving Face,” with its 80s inspired synthesizers sounds like it could be an accompanied track on a “Stranger Things” soundtrack. Its high production is cinematic and above all crafted incredibly well. “Say Something” uses a lofi approach to the electronic tracks, and once the reverb vocals come in really create an almost ethereal experience. The instrumentation builds and builds and once it reaches its max volume cuts out as “just say something” is the final lyric and the record concludes. 

Moaning really went out and created a nice piece for their second record. What they did was not stay too comfortable. They attempted to not only refine their sound but give it new meaning. It’s less abrasive as their debut, and more on creating a world that the listener is able to inhabit. This is a really profound record that is musically provoking at times and uncannily beautiful and moving. Some of the highlights of these tracks that will probably be overlooked are the moments within the interludes. The band was able to create incredibly beautiful tracks that are short but memorable. It helps the listener transition to the world Moaning has created, and that world is intimate and real. 

For Fans of: Corridor, The Homesick, Wolf Parade (label mates!)

Track listing:

Side A:

  1. Ego
  2. Make It Stop
  3. ///
  4. Stranger
  5. Running
  6. Connect The Dots

Side B:

  1. Fall In Love
  2. Coincidence Or Fate
  3. What Separates Us
  4.  //////////
  5. Keep Out
  6. Saving Face
  7. Say Something

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