When it comes to The Lawsuits, pieces of various styles have always mixed and mingled, perhaps because they know that there’s really only two genres of music worth mentioning: good and bad. Together since 2007, the Philadelphia band has never claimed loyalty to any musical category other than the former. Dabbling in everything from peaceful folk and bluesy rock to bright, harmony-laden pop, they have a Beatlesque way of embracing change- maybe even chasing it- but their past makes their future more exciting because you can never be sure what they will do next. Continuing to organically switch gears with pronounced changes in style and tone, their brand new record, Moon Son, stands as the sum of five individuals that still share the desire to see just how far they can move the goal posts. Although apart from charting a seismic shift from the direction of their last full-length, 2013’s Cool Cool Cool, the band’s latest places their strengths as an ensemble under a magnifying glass. Providing their music with what it needs rather than plastering it with instrumentation it doesn’t, Brian Dale Allen Strouse, Vanessa Winters, Brendan Cunningham, Josh Friedman and Joe Bisirri glide through all eleven tracks with a disciplined approach to arranging that makes their newest collection feel like a momentous and sprawling work.
Right from the start, album opener “A Day” carries with it a softness that pervades the rest of the record. It’s a brief, bittersweet daydream that- at just under a minute and a half- feels almost more like a vignette than a song. But just like so many other moments on Moon Son, there is a tenderness to it that doesn’t fade when the music does. And while tracks like “Wasted” and “Good Time To Change” illuminate their harmonies at a time when they’re at their most layered and lush, the album’s production provides a lightness that lingers even when it’s submerged in much darker waters. Early on, lead single “Romeo” demonstrates precisely how that touch remains even as it changes shape so drastically, transforming itself completely when Strouse’s temperate vocal is paired with a haunting cello. Although most impressive is how every instance of spare accompaniment makes the moments when every player comes in hit with real impact. Possessing a collective instinct on just when to build things up and when to strip everything away, the heightened rhythms of “Hail Storm,” and the gorgeous acoustic “Moon Son” prove that even in its quieter moments, the newest record from the Lawsuits is capable of feeling bigger than anything they have done before.
Article: Caitlin Phillips