When I go into an album from a band I don’t know that has previous material, I’ll usually check it out first, but here I wanted a bit of a surprise. Boy did I get one! Not only does Arc Iris not answer to the laws of music it cares nothing for genre conventions either. For one, on Moon Saloon, time signatures are changed flippantly. This is most prevalent on the two longest tracks, which bookend the record.
Frontwoman Jocie Adams’ vocals on the record are a highlight. She runs the gamut of emotion evoking this through her delicate performance. “She Arose” might be the best song on the album if not for the addicting single “Kaleidoscope”. Even at over six minutes, it’s revelatory that they chose it as the lead single. This Providence, Rhode Island-based band blends the best of all of their labelmates at Bella Union: You can hear the whimsy of Fleet Foxes, the twee indie of Fionn Regan and snappy guitar work like you’d find from Father John Misty. Essentially what you’d expect from a label run by a member of Cocteau Twins, without the goth rock twist.
Moon Saloon is dream pop for the 21st century, especially on “Kingdom Come” and “Paint with the Sun”, which really hit the mark and blend with tracks like “Kaleidoscope” well. “Lilly” and “Johnny”, which can be found back-to-back on the record, are shoegazey and wonderous and would not sound out of place on record by a group like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. “Pretending” is weaker than most of the other tracks, but that’s really saying something, since as most of these tracks are great.
This album was an unexpectedly pleasant surprise. I instantly got the feel of bands like Rilo Kiley and Monsters Are Waiting with Adams’ vocals and I hope to hear more from them in the future.