“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” was what my mom always told me. And wouldn’t you know it, she was right. Take Seasons In The Underground by The Moog, for instance. From the title's Slayer reference to the picture of the band on the back, the last thing I was ready for was shimmering power pop. But sure enough, much of this album is exactly that, and it's a welcome antidote to the gloom and doom I was expecting.
Actually, there are a lot of influences I hear on this Budapest, Hungary five-piece’s third album. The way the drums, guitars, and vocals come together during “March of the Unholy Truth,” hearken back to the better moments of Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction, for example. And “Highway” could have found a home somewhere on Weezer’s Blue album back in 1994.
What works best for me are the references to classic New Wave. Not the cheesy stuff though. No, I’m talking about the bands who may have been lumped in with that movement, but had much more to say than “Karma Chameleon.” In fact, from the moment the laser hit the aluminum on the opening track “Seasons Change In The Underground,” I thought maybe Roddy Frame had returned from exile to put out a worthy follow-up to the classic Aztec Camera recording High Land, Hard Rain. This is a truly great song, and a great way to begin an album.
The harmonies recall that of other classic British bands of the early '80s, such as Squeeze. How do these moody looking bastards (one is even smoking!) reconcile this? Obviously they don’t care and nobody else should either. While I mention a couple of obvious influences (to me, at least), The Moog are still very much their own band.
There is an inherent difficulty in these comparisons, because The Moog are certainly not a soundalike group, or a retro act for that matter. I just mention the power pop genre as a reference point. They really are not power pop, it's just one element of what makes this album sound so good to these ears. Another one is the music of …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, just in case I have overused the skinny-tie group references.
The 11 songs that make up Seasons In The Underground show a band who have absorbed a great deal of music over the years and have put their own stamp on it. Seasons In The Underground is a great album.