Young Moon - Navigated Like The Swan
Craftsmen, songsmith, disappointed idealist - call him whatever you will; Trevor Montgomery has become somewhat of a decorated figure in the darker depths of the blogosphere. After his first record The Trickstercaught many-an-eye, 2012 has since seen the alias Young Moon emerge with brand new record, Navigated Like The Swan, in tow. With an eyebrow raised, I decided to take to my haunches and press play.
Unison vocals, an emphasis on delay and un-patronising drum sound are immediately charming, bold stylistic choices. The vocals are nicely positioned and the reverbs short, but long enough to let you hear the space they're recorded in. There's a real honesty throughout the recording that makes you pay more attention to the songs as personable pieces and, as a result, allow you respect them.
'Winds Light' showcases twee musical elements that compliment the bitter pleas made to a lost lover. And whilst instrumentation is rarely used as a poignant property here, it creates a dulcet decoration that juxtaposes the lyrical themes. The guitars are encapsulating throughout, rearing their heads in the utmost way. 'Northern Earth' is a moment that depicts their vitality. Rarely does the record request the space for a vocal melody, and the bathetic capsule that Navigated Like The Swan closes you into begins to feel like more of a home.
The mood Montgomery has tried to capture is presented in the most versatile ways – take the segues, for example. These transitional moments on the album are tasteful, sudo-stanzas. Showing a wealth in variety, they're used to insist a mood; 'Ages of Youth' chills your teeth, whilst opener 'The Crystal Text' is a shrewd marker.
'Cold Day Solstice' might be the records' frankest take on song-writing, and as a result it suffers. Clearly, Trevor Montgomery benefits from dressing messages in metaphor instead of this particular guise. If you compare lines like "take a hard look around you/everywhere there is wisdom" and "yeah my pa' was a trickster" to complete bodies like 'Winds Light' or 'Summit And Blue Air', it's baffling. 'Emma Jane' might just be the best song Navigated Like The Swan has at its behest. Incisive, insistent three-dimensional production and a dowse of over-lapping melody remain their strengths.
There's something saddening about the progression of Navigated Like The Swan, tracks like 'Painting Of Waves' and 'On The Verge' don't belong anywhere near this record, and too often do you find yourself craving its braver, more succinct beginning. I found myself wondering after the second and third listens that it would've made a great EP, and whilst the moments I appreciate are the 'flabbier' ones, it would've been stronger if it had been streamlined.
Though an amiable record with pleasurable moments and terrific aesthetics – there's certainly a question mark attached to its consistency in quality. I'm just not sure whether the weaker nuances outweigh some clearly strong foundations. As the album progresses, the songs seem to lose their intensity and fluidity – part of this relies on track-listing, some of it is because it's difficult to paint a picture with one colour, and unfortunately Trevor Montgomery hasn't quite managed to do so this time.