The Moog hails from Budapest, and there’s really no mistaking it. In a manner quintessentially Hungarian, the indie pop quintet encapsulates their hometown’s dichotomy of old and new, hard and soft, dark and light. Just as the resplendent beauty of Buda provides a refreshing contrast to the bustling vitality of Pest, the band’s rock, new wave and dark wave influences offset modern indie-pop sensibilities to create a sound at once familiar and altogether new.
The new self-titled EP marks a matured departure from the straightforward indie sound of their last release, 2012’s Seasons in the Underground LP. Produced by Mark Needham and recorded in California and Florida by Adam Fuller and Josh Cobb, and mixed in here L.A. by Needham and Will Brierre, the new record nods to the likes of the Buzzcocks, Pulp and Depeche Mode. The cavernous opener “Under the Northern Lights” shimmers with chamber-pop synthesizers guided by a stark and steady beat as frontman Tonyo Szabó’s velvety, Dave Gahany vocals lull us into a trance. Blending just the right balance of synth to fuzz, “Unbound” is an impossibly catchy dance number entrenched in the ’80s.
Tonyo has really nailed the whole superstar thing, which is no better evidenced than on the brooding “Tornado in My Heart” where his darkly sensual baritone bursts into a vulnerable timbre for the chorus: “Tornado in my heart tears my world apart, the tornado in my heart brings another start.” The fluttering bassline and crying synthesizers in “I Wanna Know” mirror the unrelenting desperation of a love in danger of slipping away: “I’ll make you proud, the silence makes me want to break out.”
The Moog’s love of powerpop comes to light on the two closing tracks, “So You Wanna Be in Love,” which recalls the playfulness of early Supergrass, and the delightful gem “Hey Girl,” elevated by a bouncy bassline and fuzzy guitar solo that evolves to a swirling psychedelic crescendo. As with the harmonious interplay of contrasting influences on each track, the EP as a whole demonstrates a refined balance of sadness and joy.
– by Linda A. Rapka