New York’s Peel Dream Magazine just dropped a surprise EP entitled Moral Panics on July 3. This six-track collection is composed of songs that did not make the cut in their latest full length album Agitprop Alterna, which we reviewed back in May.
Moral Panics may be less involved and concrete as its full length sister, but they share a lot of the same characteristics. We see the same diverse blend of shoegaze, post-punk and dream-pop sounds with a washed-up and muted soundscape. Each track feels like a bed of intricate textures woven in a distinct way. There are similarities in melody and arrangements between the two, but Moral Panics by far is lighter and more laid back. In fact, the band intends the EP to be a companion piece to supplement Agitprop Alterna.
Both offerings take inspiration from highbrow concepts and ideas. Agitprop was heavily inspired by Bertolt Brecht, and thus we see an infusion of theatrical and meta ideas. Moral Panics on the other hand comes from the Stanley Cohens “Folk Devils and Moral Panics”, a study of how media coverage creates a rippling effect of panic in a society. Creating political, cultural and societal rifts among its people. An increasingly relevant phenomenon for this day and age.
Despite these dystopian themes, Moral Panic sounds surprisingly calm and refreshing. The impressionistic approach really makes it easy for any new listener to dive in. Layers of riffs and vocal harmonies give off a warm and fuzzy feeling. “New Culture” opens the EP with a dreamy melody that’s similar to Agitprop’s “Pill” and “Emotional Devotion Creator”. “Verfremdungseffect” has a bouncy bass groove and upbeat cadence that’s contrary to its alienating title. “Dialectrics” has and church organ glow with an ethereal male-female vocal interplay that invites goosebumps.
Repetition is used effectively in “Life at the Movies” and “The Furthest Nearby Place”, creating a meditative flow state that sucks the listener into a heightened state of shoegaze enlightenment. The EP ends with “Clean Water”, a stripped down acoustic tune that’s charming in its simplicity and lenience.
If you’re a fan of shoegaze with relaxing lo-fi textures then you should check this out. In a world full of noise and uncertainty, Peel Dream Magazine presents a soothing escape with lush and vivid soundscapes. While Agitprop Alterna is expansive and cerebral, Moral Panics is subdued but equally brilliant just the same. The perfect chaser for a strong drink.