Wymond Miles

Under the Pale Moon

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The full-length debut release from the Fresh and Onlys' guitarist following an earlier EP, Under the Pale Moon, finds Wymond Miles coming off a series of personal tragedies, aiming to create a series of songs reflecting a newfound passion and appreciation for life. The result is something that may not always seem squared away with that impulse, but such is mass culture's desire to reduce things simplistically -- Under the Pale Moon is no Up with People-style production, but it isn't meant to be. Instead, the combination of crypto-goth moodiness -- nods to Bauhaus but especially to Will Sergeant's work with Echo & the Bunnymen are omnipresent -- and an older kind of drama, reaching back to Phil Spector's productions and Roy Orbison's mini-operas, recombines throughout on a remarkable series of songs. Something like the sharply titled "You and I Are of the Night," at once dramatic and a little wink to the audience, feels simultaneously like a late-'50s tearjerker and a reworking of that tearjerker by a band like Modern English, wielding a strong kick with deeper roots than expected. (Perhaps an even stronger title, a seeming irony that ultimately isn't, lies with "Youth's Lonely Wilderness," a stirring anthem in a late-'70s David Bowie vein that transforms into something with quieter drums than one might expect, with an unresolved, fascinating tension.) The fact that one can't draw an exact bead on many of the songs helps underscore their potential uniqueness, a kind of fusion that's Miles' own clear aesthetic at work rather than simply a recombination, as a song like "Singing the Ending" makes clear -- whether it's "country" or "folk" or "goth" means less than the end result. Other songs, like "Pale Moon" and "The Thirst," add to this album's overall excellence.

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