Poor Moon

Illusion

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This slowly forming side project of Fleet Foxes sidemen Christian Wargo and Casey Wescott (both also of slick indie outfit Crystal Skulls) started brewing in 2008, about four years before this debut EP, Illusion, finally saw release. Starting as a bedroom collaboration with some Bay Area friends and the occasional jokey entertainment at low-key house parties in Seattle, the band began growing at the same time as Fleet Foxes' overarching worldwide popularity. Between tours and in downtime, Poor Moon cobbled together their sound, and Illusion is a slow-burning five-song EP preceding a full-length slated to appear shortly after. Shedding much of the Spoon influence of Crystal Skulls, Poor Moon follow the same rustic backwoods folk path as Fleet Foxes. Maybe follow a little too closely. In some of the EP's strongest moments, it's difficult to tell the bands apart: same vaguely wounded approach, same dark and rolling themes of nature and secluded country scenes intertwining with lyrics about loss or strange characters from distant memories. There are some very subtle touches setting Poor Moon apart from their parent band, such as the muted delay swells on the vocals of the title track, a swinging lead guitar on the sunshiny, Beatlesque "People in Her Mind," and a dip back into the dark indie territory of Crystal Skulls with "Once Before." However, it's all within the framework of highly nostalgic harmonies and heartachey indie folk already very much signature to Fleet Foxes. If anyone should be given a pass on sounding this much like an enormously popular band, it's probably the group that shares members with said band, but one can't help but question the motivations behind sounding so similar. When the wordless "Ohh ohh" choruses of the album-closing "Widow" show up, they knock Poor Moon down from simply redundant to out-and-out cover band. The five songs here might not be indicative of the direction their full-length takes, and the hints at diversity could lead to a more realized LP. As far as first impressions go, Illusion definitely shows a band searching for its own voice, or at the very least, a little too comfortable borrowing somebody else's.

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