The Holydrug Couple

Moonlust

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The Holydrug Couple's 2011 debut EP Ancient Land and their 2013 full-length Noctuary were drenched in gauzy, unintrusive Euro psychedelia. They didn't spiral the outer limits so much as explore the subtler aspects of inner headspace. That said, they held the listener's attention and caught her up in their drifts. On Moonlust, the Chilean duo of Ives Sepulveda and Manuel Parra remain in the retrosphere but move in a different musical direction. That doesn't mean there aren't psych touches here, but they're subservient to sounds from French film music and European cafe rock from the late 1970s and '80s. In addition, the influence of French duo Air is utterly pervasive -- sans state of the art technology. Parra's drums are merely a time-keeping instrument in these 12 tunes, but they keep the proceedings weighted to the earth. Really, this music is so "light" it's almost difficult to tell one track from another. The songs, populated by vulnerable vocals, simple melodies, phase-shifted keyboards, primitive loops, and breezy guitars, are all of a textural piece that reportedly celebrates desire. As evidenced by first single "Dreamy," it's longing that speaks more to innocence than lust. The flowery basslines, shimmering cymbals, and recessed lead vocals swirl around deliriously, not only in this cut, but throughout the record. The lithe, silvery, cosmopolitan "French Movie Theme" sounds like early Ride interpreting one of Serge Gainsbourg's flashback sequences. "If I Could Find You (Eternity)" has a harpsichord-like synth and "ooo-ahhh" vocals touches on its pop psych -- it could have been included in Francis Lai's score for Bilitis. "Baby I'm Going Away" goes even further; it strains that pop element through wispy, detached, Euro-soul. "Generique Noir" sounds more like a demo pasted on as filler than a finished track. Only "Submarine Gold" goes for THC's psych rock sound wholesale. A two-chord vamp with squalling guitars, heavy drums, and wafting keyboards creates a pulse and delivers (some) kinetic force. The cut takes the listener forward into a maelstrom of stacked, contrasting textures and establishes some of the duo's intended erotic tension. Though Moonlust is pleasant, it so actively tries to re-create the feel of its inspirations that it is more a distracted reverie than anything else.

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