Newmoon – Space (PIAS)

Belgium’s Newmoon formed in 2013 and named themselves after an album by the sadly missed Elliot Smith. Space is their debut album, following a couple of years on from their only other release to date, Invitation To Hold E.P.

Like previous touring partners and sonic brothers-in-arms Nothing, the band were formed from the ashes of a hardcore punk band, (in Newmoon’s case, Midnight Souls), but they have now arrived at a drastically different, perfectly formed dreampop sound.

Opening track ‘Helium’ was shared prior to the release of the album and shows the band at their most commercial; a gorgeous track which marries a more uptempo early Slowdive sound with the longing vocals of frontman Bert Cannaerts, which have a touch of the naive charm of Ian Brown, but with greater subtlety. Cannaerts revealed that the song was quite some time in the making, with time being taken over the construction of the track’s soundscapes and lyrics. It was worth it.

The album’s lead single ‘Head Of Stone’ follows next and has a flavour of Catherine Wheel about it, with its more muscular guitar riffs and lyrics apparently inspired by a Japanese bullet train ride between Tokyo and Kyoto.

‘Coma’, meanwhile, begins delicately with some beautiful effects-drenched guitar before the intensity builds throughout the track – Newmoon clearly pay attention to the dynamics of the songs but never at the expense of the songs themselves – Space is, although quite dense in parts, a very immediate record.

The album’s shortest track, ‘Hi’, appears in the middle of side two, (if you are listening to the vinyl version, and why wouldn’t you, when the choice of white or clear / purple vinyl married with spectacularly great artwork is there for the taking), and although at first the instrumental piece appears slight, on greater exposure it connects the music together so effectively, the relatively light mood of ‘Everything Is’ to the beautiful melancholy of the epic ‘One Thousand’.

Space sounds like a lot of thought has gone into its sequencing – it is a satisfying journey across nine tracks that really has to be listened to in its entirety, in order to get the full effect of its majesty. The sounds within certainly make no secret of the band’s mutual admiration for the early 90s Shoegaze sound of RideMy Bloody Valentine and the like, but Newmoon have enough of their own personality and quality of material to carry them through. A confident and compelling debut.

Space is out now on PIAS.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.