Release Date: Mar 25, 2016
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Full of cool, moody surfaces and pop melodies that sounded part mid-'70s, part present day, Night Moves' debut album, Colored Emotions, was one of the more pleasant surprises of 2012. While the vague country influences on Colored Emotions have faded somewhat, the group's second album, 2016's Pennied Days, finds Night Moves moving slowly but confidently forward from their early work. Anchored in the striking, elemental keyboard work of multi-instrumentalist John Pelant, Pennied Days is a bittersweet song cycle that suggests several lovelorn characters have moved to a midsized college town.
Night Moves exists in the rare realm of nostalgic bands where everything seems possible. They are as capable of selling a falsetto-laden psych rock song like “Carl Sagan” as they are a small-town power ballad like “Alabama”. On Pennied Days, the group’s eagerly awaited second album, they stretch their warm, melodic sound in new and exciting directions while never losing the strong hooks and glitzy guitar that serve them so well.
When my older sister got married in 2005, the song for her first dance was Bryan Adams’ 1991 hit, “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)”. Growing up in New Jersey in the ‘90s, I had heard it a million times, which was, for me, half a million too many. But for two adults who had met as teenagers, there was a romantic, comforting nostalgia to a song like that, which could be found on every diner’s flip-through jukebox, heard on every corporate radio station, and was likely playing when something very romantic happened between them.
The sound-world conjured by Night Moves on their debut album Colored Emotions felt, for all its promise, like an uneasy hybrid – caught between rootsy thrum and hazy country-psych, the Minneapolis-based band never wholly convinced. For their follow-up album, Pennied Days, the rootsy stuff has been pared back and the reverb cranked. It’s a wise move from a band whose songwriting chops don’t quite yet match their widescreen, inventive sound.