When artists operate under different names, it can often be more obvious to them than to the listener what the difference is. And while Neil Pennycook’s sojourn as Supermoon wasn’t necessarily a radical departure (with some songs evolving across guises), his return to Meursault and a fuller sound helps to balance out the careful elements of his songwriting.
Pennycook has always balanced despair and hopefulness. And not just lyrically. His vocal, always slightly distanced in the songs like a radio broadcast from the end of the world, sits on the cusp, lifting from bruised numbness to a plaintive wail. The fuller band of Meursault brings a glitchy warmth to balance the bleakness, even if the indie-anthemics of earlier records are largely absent. The piano in particular, whether through soft chords or carnivaleque tinkling, fills out the songs and helps make the same journey as the songs themselves from “Nobody knows how this ends. But it ends badly.” to “I am reminded that this is a good life and to enjoy it.”.
For those of us who self-medicate with music, at the end of a long and baffling day it can take more than a simple burst of musical prozac. We need albums with a bit of darkness as well as beauty – to climb inside, wrap around ourselves and to see ourselves through til morning. This is one of those.