It’s probably unfair to call Moon & Pollution a happy creative accident, because there is a certain serendipity in how the duo, featuring vocalist Molly Dean and producer Graham O’Brien. Their birth came at the Bayfront Festival following prompting from Slug of Atmosphere to play. Perhaps we might not have this album if it wasn’t for Slug of Atmosphere’s vision to push them into the spotlight. Perhaps they would have found their way there without it. However, it is a bit of inspired lunacy to marry two seemingly disparate musical forms, ethereal vocals and electronica textures with assertive and genre busting tempos. The positive reception that Moon & Pollution received on their emergence helped land the song “Alter Eagle” from this debut on the Season 4 premiere of MTV’s series Teen Wolf. Such commercial visibility sets a great stage for their first release The Box Borealis. It’s a ten song collection jarring anyone’s conception of pop music’s boundaries while still closely adhering to traditional elements.
The album has a clear design that only becomes more apparent with succeeding spins. Much of The Box Borealis’ opening devotes itself to establishing the duo as the foremost practitioners of an almost forgotten musical art while pushing its limits further out than ever before. The first four songs, particularly the first and last of the group, are complex musical constructions that, nevertheless, maintain considerable accessibility. The album’s title song will stagger many listeners. It’s an outrageous combination of skull cracking beats holding down a colorful and melodic soundscape. “The Magnetic North” is certainly the most experimental of the group and develops patiently. Vocals are better developed in the production and the restless percussion has a beautifully rolling quality.
“Darkroom Double” marks a turning point. There’s a tortured, but indomitable quality emanating from the song and Dean builds on that with a gusty vocal. The satisfying conclusion to the song is, arguably, the album’s best crescendos and it works so well because it sounds completely inevitable, never forced. “Solace Sandwich” develops the rhythmic thrust of the preceding song into a sinewy, yet muscular track. These two songs will strike many as the heart of the album and, undoubtedly, they play like the fullest realization of the duo’s vision. The stuttering tempos of “I Didn’t Look” are ideal for its brief duration and Dean’s voice dances lightly with its momentum. Moon & Pollution alternates between expansive, ethereal spaces and muscular grooves on “Alter Eagle”, but Dean’s vocal completes the song with her sensitive, yet commanding phrasing. The album’s turn back towards its initial artistic direction concludes with “The Lonely Quiet”, a gorgeously wrought quasi-ballad with Dean’s best vocal.
The Box Borealis places Moon & Pollution near the forefront of the indie scene’s cutting edge units. Their creativity comes easily – the ten songs on the album create a mini-mind movie of sorts and seem to spill out of the twosome with little effort. The best songwriters always make the hard work, experience, and sweat sound ultimately easy to us after hearing the finished product. Moon & Pollution are a powerful musical force to be reckoned with right now.