Moonbabies – June and Novas

June and Novas

Who knew the next hotbed of indie rock would be in Sweden? Well, if that country is about to take the world by storm, it will be Moonbabies leading the revolution. This album blew me away, causing me to repeat this album time and again, and each time I found a different song to cherish, a different quality that sets this duo apart.
Malmo, Sweden’s Moonbabies, who are Carina Johansson and Ola Frick, play a combination of indie pop, rock, psychedelic rock, and electronic experimentation, sometimes all in the same song. The band mixes up their styles, often following a pop song by a more experimental track, and so it’s easy to repeat this entire album and find something new. Combine lovely male and female vocals, and you get a stellar release.
Most of these songs are pure pop bliss. “I’m Insane But So Are You” combines male and female vocals with a light, almost jangly pop quality. And after starting with a lovely, tinkling intro, the title track takes off in a textured, lush pop song that’s composed of equal parts light melodies and textured rock assaults. Somehow, that mixture works perfectly. “Have You Ever Said Goodbye?” is a classic, with light, jangly guitar and thick atmospheric vocals, without a doubt the best track here. Frick’s vocals are somewhat reminiscent of Bob Mould on this track. And there’s elements of a more mid-90’s textured rock feel to the lovely and bouncy “We’re Layabouts.”
Johansson’s vocals are most beautiful on the quieter moments, like the lush and thick “Shining Sun,” and Frick does the same on the soft rocking “Because You Can’t Explain.” The break into fast and frenzied rock on “My Buddy Buddy” is a bit shocking, causing me to check the CD several times, but the band is back to style on “City Walk,” a much more crisp and bouncy, almost Euro-pop number. “We Still Use it In the Wrong Way” is a more rocking track, with thick guitar riffs and a Velvet Underground sort of feel.
The band also shows off their willingness to experiment, often in the introductions or some of the shorter songs. “Kissing Underwater” combines synthesized beats and noises before the atmospheric vocals and guitars transition in and the noises transition out, while “Piano Hammers” has a kind of underwater ambient feel. “Count Stars >> Be Patient” is similar yet even more moody and textured.
This album is clearly one of the best I’ve heard in a long time and would have been near the top of my best of 2000 list had I heard it then. The Moonbabies have proven themselves impeccable songwriters, capable of playing quiet, soft ballads and more rocking, textured songs, always tossing in dashes of experimentation. They clearly positioned themselves to be not just the best of their country but ours as well.