Label: Ruined Smile
Moral Straightjacket‘s brand of emo is heavy. Not so much in the musical sense – anyone who has spent time with their previous releases will attest to that – but emotionally. Their songs carry the weight of the world in their riffs and drum patterns, with the vocals and lyrics conveying a sense of profound weariness and loss that belies the youth of the members. Comparisons to Self-Defence Family are obvious and apt, but latest EP, I’ll Be Your Rainbow, sees the band move in different directions, with dark post-punk and country coming to the fore as often as emo or post-hardcore does. It’s a bold move, and it works extremely well.
I’ll Be Your Rainbow presents three tracks, and each one is markedly different to the others. Opener ‘Blue Wizards’ is the shortest of the three, and is as reminiscent of Killing Joke as it is Moss Icon. The riffs move in ways that seem basic, but are incredibly effective, being very catchy and powerful, and the prominent bass sounds fantastic. The lyrics are as cryptic as ever, but still bristle with emotion, making the song feel like the mid-point between post-punk and 80’s Dischord emo. Which is absolutely great.
Second track ‘Evergreen’ is musically lighter, with a more gentle guitar tone and female vocals, but there’s still an immense depth of emotion and world-weariness here. The repetitive nature of the song is, as with ‘Blue Wizards’, drawn from post-punk as much as it is Moss Icon, giving the song a hypnotic, hazy feel, beautiful yet with undeniable sorrow.
Closer ‘Blood Orange’ is the most marked deviation, and the bravest move from the band. Acoustic Americana influences are not unheard of in emo – and Bright Eyes’ early output arguably marked the points where these two styles converged – but this track moves in to country territory, and occupies it with bravery, intelligence, and heart. The natural beauty and sorrow of this style meshes well with Moral Straightjacket’s poetic, melancholic lyrics, and the contrast between this song and the previous ones works to the benefit of them all. By highlighting differences in this way, the strong points of the respective styles come to the fore; and placing it at the end of the EP provides a sense of closure to the narrative held within.
It’s remarkable that I’ll Be Your Rainbow packs so many different styles and such emotional power in to a short tape, but this speaks highly of just how great a band Moral Straightjacket are. The moves in to new musical climes have somehow served to highlight just how emotionally and musically powerful they are, making this an EP fans of intelligent, emotionally devastating music will not want to sleep on.
I’ll Be Your Rainbow is available digitally and on cassette via Bandcamp.