Colorama Records (CD, LP)
Mid-1960s British pop-rock influences are very evident on this wonderful album by the Northampton, England-based band The Moons, who are led by songwriter Andy Crofts. The bright and sunny opening track “Today” is the perfect introduction to the album. The pleasant and easygoing song “Riding Man” is reminiscent of the U.K. band Ocean Colour Scene. It was influenced by Crofts’ friend Bradley Wiggins after Wiggins won the Tour de France.
The storytelling songwriting of The Kinks’ Ray Davies has influenced at least two of the tracks on Pocket Melodies. The first of those is “The Old Brigade,” with its observational lyrics and heavy instrumentation. It’s about Crofts’ childhood, his friends from that time and where he grew up. It’s a wonderful song, and the church bells at the end are a nice touch. The other track in The Kinks’ mold is “Sleep,” a whimsical anti-war song about how people are at peace when sleeping and if they could harness that peaceful feeling in their waking hours, they might be able to stop war and power-mad leaders.
Other influences abound. “Far Away” could have been a Yardbirds track in 1966. It’s about not being truly in love with the one you’re with. It has effective backing vocals and nice organ work. “Tunnel Of Time” has an early-period David Bowie vibe. It was a collaboration between Crofts and Paul Weller, with Weller providing the rough demo and Crofts building the song around it. (Crofts and fellow Moons members Ben Gordelier and Tom Van Heel are also part of Weller’s touring band.) The beautiful and moving song “The Lone Wolf” has echoes of The Beatles in it and is one of the highlights of the album. And “Midnight” is clearly influenced by the production of Phil Spector, particularly the strings. It has a nice trippy guitar break in the middle.
“Where Are You Now?” concerns Crofts’ absent father, and questions where his father is both now and when he was a boy. “Rear Window” is a sweet-sounding pop song with somewhat dark lyrics about what the neighbors are up to, including a domestic-violence scene. Conor O’Brien of the U.K. band Villagers contributes a nice trumpet solo to the song. And the lovely and jaunty “An Ordinary Romance” serves as a terrific close to the album.
The album was recorded live at London’s Abbey Road Studios with a string quartet. Crofts did the string arrangements.