I’m almost certain that The Moth and The Flame is the most exciting thing about Utah. At a time where most art rock musicians face the daunting trial of being compared to Radiohead’s mastery, the duo determinedly carries the label and puts out their own striking music.
Their approach to art rock is also uniquely literal – their self-titled debut album is only released in its physical form, since the duo insists the album art is “an integral part of the process and is the opening track of the album.” Indeed the cover—a picture of a man supported above the ground by numerous crutches—is quietly enigmatic and hints at the powerfully intriguing album to come.
The duo is obviously serious about their music. So serious that I almost feel guilty for involuntarily dancing to their opening track, “The Maker”. Such is the dilemma when the music is simultaneously inspiring and catchy. The layered vocals and ethereal guitar effects paint something of a fragile heaven, all the while coexisting with the driven and melodic guitar riff. Unexpected beauty blossoms everywhere: as the driven melodies of “The Maker” breaks down to atmospheric sound scape; as the powerful guitar chords kick in on the initially calm “&”; as the fragile, eerie introduction to “Dreamer” grows into an immersive riff. Hold tight and try to stay calm.
The album carries something I can’t quite explain; it’s like arriving at a place you’ve never been before, but getting hit with helpless nostalgia. The Moth and The Flame has the polished yet comforting sound, the driven rhythm, the haunting melody. It has the kind of chord progression that makes you want to jump off a ledge, but instead will embrace you with abandon. Am I getting sappy here? I also still haven’t stopped dancing. God, The Moth and The Flame are exciting. Save Utah, go indulge in the duo instead.