Music Review: Poor Moon – Illusion EP

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Poor Moon
Illusion EP
Available now on Sub Pop

Christian Wargo and Casey Wescott, both of Fleet Foxes and
Crystal Skulls, along with brothers Ian and Peter Murray, debut as Poor Moon
with a mesmerizing offering of folky tunes fit for cloudy, slow-moving mornings
when a cup of tea beckons to rub off the haze of sleep. Wargo, the group’s sole
songwriter, combines the gentle folk elements of his more well known musical
endeavor with the electric, upbeat pop of Crystal Skulls, creating something
new. The Seattle-based band released the five song EP, Illusion, on
March 27 via their hometown label Sub Pop.

On “Illusion,” the title track, Wargo weaves his vocals over a stark background
of lightly fingerpicked acoustic guitar and waves of reverb organ swirls.
“It’s not fair/ Can I be as unaware as I seem/ Laying there like I don’t know
how to prepare to be seen,” Wargo coos in self reflection. After several years
of touring, traversing the obscure landscape of sudden fame and success, some
soul-searching about who you are and where you want to be seems necessary.
Wargo arrives at a simple, yet difficult to follow, mantra for going forward –
“I want to learn to rely on what I first decide/ When the moment comes before
it passes me by.”

“People in Her Mind,” the first single from Illusion, tells the story of
a lonely girl living in the past, calling out the names of people she used to
know. The band contrasts this sorry imagery with the jovial instrumentation of
distorted guitar riffs and a dancing xylophone. In a similar vein, “Once
Before” finds Poor Moon unabashedly playing simple rock and roll, albeit a bit
darker and more mysterious. Wargo makes solid use of his vocal range,
occasionally showing off his smooth falsetto in choruses of harmonizing oohs,
that might continue humming in your head long after the music stops.

Poor Moon returns to their folkier side on the final track, “Widow,” with
inventive vocal melodies blowing over a field of soothing guitar plucks. Coming
in at around 15 minutes, the EP should be just enough to tide you over until
the release of their first full-length album due out later this year. While
comparisons to Fleet Foxes will be made, as is only obvious and natural, Illusion
stands on its own as a shining example of the modern folk-rock wave of the past
few years.

Ben Sauder is an Online Editorial Assistant at Ogden Publications, the parent company of Utne Reader. Find him on

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