Moaning took a tight swerve in their second album, replacing the sweltering guitars of their 2018 self-titled release to lush sounding synths and electronic beats. They’ve delivered a 13-track journey that leans toward more atmospheric moods and textures, downcast with lyrics of insecurity, anxiety and the overall challenges of living in the 21st century — a true reflection to its title “Uneasy Laughter”. 

Vocalist Sean Solomon’s sobriety and newfound wisdom was the catalyst for the band’s change in direction. Accompanied by his longtime collaborators and friends Pascal Stevenson (bass/keyboards) and Andrew MacKelvie, their creative talents mesh into a post-punk revival collection that blends retro traditions with modern sensibilities.

“Ego” pulses with urgency and mechanical vigor. Solomon’s voice is draped with glittering swells and the ground vibrates as he denounces the vanity that we’re all seemed to be obsessed with nowadays, singing “We used to care, but we forgot / Have more in common that we do not / What part of you relates to me? / Narcissism is not empathy”. 

“Stranger” features a deep sense of self-awareness. The track gives off an icy mood, with glittering riffs interlaced by Solomon’s languid delivery, he sings about his regret over losing someone due to his own actions with the line “Now you are a Stranger / But you’re stuck in my head”.

The drum and bass picks up a restless tempo in “Running”. The synths and vocals take on an ethereal quality as they hover over the other instruments, creating an effect that they’re being chased by some ghostly entity. A clever use of sonic arrangement to match what’s expressed in the chorus, “You’re running / From what you’ve just imagined”.

“Connect the Dots” is dreamy and aqueous, a reflective piece about the unease of not being able to discern your true emotions. “Confidence or Fate” tackles the lack of control in one’s life. The electronic elements bleed and oscillate like lost memories, as Solomon laments “Tried to control this, rewrite destiny / Don’t know what to do, somebody tell me?”

Amidst the bright atmosphere and the layers of dreamy sounds that fill every beat of ‘Uneasy Laughter’ comes an honest narrative of someone looking at their own situation and finding meaning within it. The band’s change in sound direction mirrors Solomon’s change of heart, leaving a lifestyle of drugs to fully come into terms with his own faults. 

There’s a lingering resentment that can be heard in the lyrics of “Saving Face” (”You’re pointing the finger / It’s never your fault”) and “Say Something” (You know there’s something wrong / You look the other way) which can also be attributed towards oneself. This awareness heralds a call to action, to change for the better, something that every listener should seek for themselves, and something that Moaning has achieved in this latest offering. 

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