National Music Reviews April 2016

Review: Night Moves – Pennied Days

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Night Moves
Pennied Days

Domino Records
Street: 03.25
Night Moves = Bad Suns + Rod Stewart + Future Islands

Night Moves did not instantly impress me. John Pelant‘s voice reminded me far too much of Rod Stewart’s (minus the beloved scratchiness), and depending on who you are and what you are into, that could be an amazing thing or a very, very bad thing. Pennied Days is Night Moves’ sophomore release. Night Moves’ first album, Colored Emotions, was pegged by Harley Brown of Pitchfork as “a psychedelic country gem.” What sets Pennied Days apart from Colored Emotions is the lack of any ounce of country influence.

Night Moves ultimately are a pop band. I’ve heard this record before: poppy, upbeat tracks with powerful vocals. You know, shit you can dance to. Nothing on the album is incredibly bad, and everyone can play their instruments perfectly well. Pelant’s voice has its own flair and character. What makes pop music so intoxicating is its ability to take hold of you. Upon first hearing many a pop song, one might stick out their tongue in distaste and have no desire to ever hear the song again. But then something strange happens, and on the second, third or even fourth listen, you catch yourself humming along with the lyrics—or worse, the lyrics are stuck in your head and you find yourself singing them all day long at work, while simultaneously swaying your hips to whatever god-awful song you were once rolling your eyes to.

Night Moves have sunk their claws into me through Pennied Days, and I don’t think I can turn back. I’m tapping my heels to every hook, I’m desperately trying to sing along to every chorus and my neck moves in patterned circles to every bang on the keyboard. It’s real with you, Night Moves, and I’m slightly addicted.

Night Moves incorporate energetic keys to complement Pelant’s soulful pop vocals. The Minneapolis natives have a full sound, one that evokes your attention even if you don’t want to listen to them. “Carl Sagan,” Night Moves’ single off of Pennied Days, is the perfect representation of how the band’s newest album is going to sound—and moreover, feel like. “Carl Sagan” is a brilliantly crafted pop hit. Pelant’s voice is commanding as he sings in his most high-pitched voice, “Feels right cause it seems right / And it feels right cause it is right / How long … You gonna call my name? / How long you gonna feel this way?” The single will force all of us onto the dance floor in hordes.

“Leave Your Light On” opens with soft strumming on the guitar. This song is the most indie rock song on the album, but still never strays from what makes Night Moves such a lovable pop group. Pelant howls, “Want you to love me tonight” over and over. “Border On Border” opens with a piano part that could’ve easily been an opener to a Tobias Jesso Jr. song off his 2015 release, Goon. “Hiding In The Melody” is ballad-esque but never loses its ’70s danceability. The guitar swings along the melody while the drums keep the song upbeat, even while Pelant brings his vocals to a somewhat mellower place.

Night Moves will certainly dance their way into the airwaves, leaving each of us with the vision of a disco ball spinning through our brains and Pelant’s intoxicating voice rollerskating into our hearts. –Alexandra Graber