Groovy, melodic, upbeat but relaxing, Moonwater feels like a tall glass of ice water on a hot summer day. It is the kind of music I want to listen to while day drinking at the pool with friends as we have a cookout or while lounging in the jacuzzi during Fourth of July fireworks.
Moonwater’s latest EP, Cheaper on the Internet, makes for easy listening without being vapid and devoid of meaning. Its four tracks are incredibly nuanced yet remarkably accessible, making it ideal for social gatherings. I consider it background music with character, just ubiquitous enough to appeal to heterogeneous audiences, featuring a diverse range of ages, experiences, backgrounds, and musical tastes without alienating or isolating anyone. The fact that I can play this EP while entertaining my family and friends—an eclectic consort that includes young All-American athletes, my feisty 87-year-old grandmother, a handful of military veterans, and a ragtag band of queer anarchists and political activists—is something that simply cannot be overlooked.
Ultimately, most music fans can be sorted in one of two categories. Either they’re mesmerized by the melodies and rhythms, or they’re captivated by lyrics and enthralled by poetry in motion. Now, admittedly, as a writer, I fall into the latter category. Still, I would be remised if I didn’t extrapolate on the fact that it is possible to develop an appreciation for both while still recognizing what inherently piques our interests. The magic of Moonwater is how they can so effortlessly appeal to audiences in both camps.
Musically, these tracks are some of the most well-produced I have heard coming from independent artists outside of the punk scene. Given that punk rock is my niche, I am sure some aspects of their vibrant sound are lost to even my acutely trained ears. I was lucky enough to sit down with vocalist Mike and guitarist Chris to learn more about their creative process. Their understanding of music theory, the human experience of sound, and how different musical elements can elicit and inspire certain emotions far exceeds their age and experience within the music industry. This knowledge and willingness to experiment has allowed them to incorporate inspiration from wildly successful musical acts like Coldplay, Kings of Leon, and The Killers while creating something that is wholly and uniquely their own. Somehow, their well-polished yet radiantly energized sound resonates with the crisp confidence of wearing a perfectly pressed and immaculately tailored three-piece suit while simultaneously invoking the relaxed comfort of your favorite pair of well-worn jeans.
With how intoxicatingly melodic Moonwater’s music is, it isn’t difficult, especially for those who aren’t necessarily lyrically oriented, to overlook the lyrics of their songs. However, Moonwater suffers only slightly from having too much of a good thing. Their music is so ambiently groovy yet danceable that their lyrics and the meaning behind them can inadvertently become secondary. Interestingly enough, I think this adds to their depth as artists as I have listened to each of their new songs several times, and I am still discovering hidden lyrical gems in each track. The lyrics in each song perfectly compliment the music to create such a calm and cohesive experience. Too often, artists work so tirelessly to write such hard-hitting lyrics that while they succeed at crafting memorable songs, they lose all sense of familiarity between songs causing them to fall short in the endeavor of creating their own signature sound.
Meanwhile, Moonwater’s lyrics may not initially stick in one’s mind, but Cheaper on the Internet has outstanding replay value. The more you listen to its tracks, the more you appreciate how interictally interwoven Moonwater’s lyrics are within the music, creating a seamless and visceral experience. The words in Street Clothes work with their melodies to capture the frantic energy of navigating our reentry into a post-pandemic society without being anxiety-inducing. After discovering a more authentic version of myself and nurturing it in isolation, this song resonated deeply with me. The pandemic allowed us to explore our own values and transform ourselves. Street Clothes embodies that sense of ownership and newfound style we exhibit when we decide to be the main characters in our own story.
In contrast, the lyrics in What Could Be illustrate a reflective moment laced with self-doubt but overpowered with a sense of pride in being brave enough to pursue your dreams. All of this wonder is tinged with mild hesitation and uncertainty that is perfectly embodied in the song’s soothing rhythm. The gradual changes in tempo and tone make you feel as if the melody is pushing you optimistically forward toward the horizon while still encouraging you to enjoy the scenery throughout your journey.
In closing, Cheaper on the Internet features four intoxicating songs that explore radically different experiences and emotions yet somehow feel like a cohesive piece. Every aspect of its production, including its cover art, has its own inspiring backstory. Moonwater explores the depths of truly coming into adulthood in unprecedented times with astounding grace and refreshing empathy. This EP is written and composed in a way that encourages us to process our experiences at a gentler and more leisurely pace. It’s a little bit indie rock with a slight alternative edge while incorporating elements of synth pop-rock without feeling artificial or superfluous.
Moonwater has its finger on the pulse of what makes popular music so appealing to the masses. However, instead of creating something superficial, they have created something restorative and serene that offers audiences an easy listening experience for those wanting to unwind and more depth for those wishing to wade deeper. You owe it to yourself to include Moonwater on your summer playlists, especially if you plan on entertaining a richly diverse group of friends or are striving to be your favorite version of yourself in 2022.
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