Without intending to date myself, how many readers remember the Nineties? It was a pretty unique time, aesthetically; Seventies fashion was retro en vogue, and a lot of that transitioned into both music and visual art as well. Oranges, browns and rich reds were really common (post-plaid) color schemes to use, and ornate gold furniture and accessories were common as well. After grunge, all of that would change with increased interest in other music (like Brit-Pop, Warped Tour-era punk rock and hardcore et cetera) but, to this day, that particularly rich (and red) color scheme is inextricably linked to that aforementioned musical style and sound.
Listeners who are old enough to remember the Nineties and call images like the covers of both Ten and Vs. by Pearl Jam as well as the disconcerting weirdness of Aphex Twin’s I Care Because You Do, the smeared interest of Boys For Pele by Tori Amos and the tightly contained majesty/opulence of the cover of Wither Blister Burn & Peel by Stabbing Westward and the lush coloring of Annie Lennox’s Diva to mind at the decade’s mention will see them manifest instantly as soon as the sleepy rhythm of “Mexico” unspools to open the album. There is an undeniable warmth apparent here as light pedal steel and singer/guitarist John Pelant’s sweet and instantly memorable voice swing out easily and hold listeners right away; the sound and effect of it feels inviting and familiar – as though the band has done this or something just like it dozens of times before [Can You Really Find Me is Night Moves’ third album]. That “Can You Really Find Me” plays so well and so easily can easily hook listeners. A similar retro sense plays through the synths which color “Recollections” as well as the doubled vocals that flavor the cut and the cascading synth riff [which feels a lot like the synth figure in “Everywhere” by Fleetwood Mac] which reoccurs through the duration of “Strands Align.”
As each song fades into the next, the A-side’s air of familiarity only deepens as it goes which is great, but the pinnacle of that progression appears in “Waiting For The Symphony,” which closes the side. There, all of the sonic flavors that Night Moves have tasted through the album’s first four songs converge and present the first grand synthesis and triumph of the album; the hazy and almost wistful synth washes which open the song (and which were apparent in the cuts which appear earlier on the side too) settle neatly into place as the side opens (with some minor key string touches included) and compliment Pelant’s satisfied sigh as he sings about not having spent time “Waiting on the symphony, waiting for a song.” For an album who’s running has been characterized by a sort of post-modern attempt to look back on old sounds, images and styles fondly, “Waiting For The Symphony” is an ideal summation and deftly leaves the side open-ended so that listeners will have no problem flipping to the album’s B-side to see what may come. The cut perfectly offers a conclusion soft enough to have listeners wanting more and solid enough to feel satisfying.
…And, likely because it worked so well the first time, the B-side of Can You Really Find Me both builds and plays in a manner which is very similar to its counterpart, but with the added confidence of knowing that it already worked once – so Night Moves allows itself to be a little more indulgent. The first instance of that indulgence opens the side as waves of synthesizer washes drench the opening of “Ribboned Skies” and revisit lyrics about love and loneliness before sliding into a more active “guitar rock” position for both the close of that song as well as the opening of”Coconut Grove” which follows it, and then visiting a sonic landscape which sounds like it might have been cribbed from a Lindsay Buckingham composition which was written for Stevie Nicks on “Saving The Dark.” Simply said, the play through this second side yields no surprises but offers plenty of satisfaction for listeners as they pick their way along and, when the album’s title track sighs both in and out to close the side, listeners will find they share the sense of satisfaction that the band has maintained through the album from front to back. After they’ve run through it, listeners will find that attempting to make their way through the running would be no kind of chore; it would just run smooth, easily and without any kind of challenge whatsoever.
(Domino Recording Company)