Portland’s Moon Talk is a synthwave outfit that just released their self-titled debut EP in early 2021. This solo project of Matt Hunter consists of six tracks, each one boasting a strong melodic theme while still carrying a catchy and groovy atmosphere. As per their bandcamp page, these songs were written in between 2013 and 2016, which makes sense as each song feels independent of each other, with the only string being Hunter’s expansive collection of vintage synth sounds. Yet this lack of narrative cohesion is easily balanced by their strengths as stand-alone songs. Some of which feel distinctly cinematic – where the string movements swell further across great landscapes or unattainable heights, while others move into the realm of dream pop with it’s soft and sentimental sounds. Either way, this album is a solid offering, with songs that wouldn’t feel too lost on a club or a 80’s nostalgia trip.
Opening track “As We Were” has a strong rhythmic core underlying a wistful and airy melody. A stark contrast to its follow up “The Bridge” which is wondrous and otherworldly – like being sucked into a rabbit hole with a kaleidoscope of colors ushering you through the ride. The shift between the grandiose and the grounded is what I really find entertaining in this album, and the transition doesn’t feel jarring as each song already has qualities of both tucked into their own little moments.
“Clouded” feels similarly complex and alien with its myriad of arpeggios and drums weaving into and against each other. As each new synth element is introduced it weaves itself further into the mix, making for a wonderful tapestry. On the other hand “Angst and Makeup Kit” is what I would call a familiar synthwave track with its strong rhythmic progression that keeps you hooked till the end. Hunter’s use of organic toms on the top end rounds out this track nicely, a subtle flourish that makes for a big payoff.
The album ends with two emotional heavy hitters. “Inevitable” feels urgent and under strain, with diminished chords constantly putting pressure on the whole song while bright lead keys lighten up its catchy hook. The closer “Let Them Down Easy” ends on a melancholic note, capturing the darker shades of new wave without a lyric being uttered.
Moon Talk’s self-titled EP has a good balance of expansive sounds and strong emotional movements. A well-rounded skill set that should carry this fresh new artist to a brilliant future.