Ok Moon: A Vulnerable, Atmospheric Self-titled Debut
words by Sam Mackey
Ok Moon’s self titled debut album brings out the best of each of the group’s four distinguished members. Each of which with already booming music careers, Australian natives Dustin Tebbutt, Will Cuming (LANKS), Hayden Calnin, and Xavier Dunn form together to create an enchantingly atmospheric body of work. While experimenting with their own ambitions, the members feed off of each other’s unique style and skills. If you listen to each of the musician’s own previous work, (which we highly recommend you do), you can understand why the four fuse so well together.
The naturalness of Tebbutt’s vocals sprinkled with chilling falsettos bring out the vulnerable moments of any piece, completing the authentically acoustic sound. Cuming’s lively electronic backings establishes high energy and creates a steady, confident pacing. Then, the crypticness and fragmentation of Calnin’s poetic lyrics, paired with his soothingly elongated instrumental sections, allows listeners to escape their physical surroundings. Dunn’s versatility and desire to transform tracks creates freshness and strong production in his associated works. In regards to each other, the group’s members have applauded Tebbutt for his collaborative openness, Cuming for his fluency in guitar and piano, Calnin for his emotive reflections, and Dunn for his invincibly strong drive. These individuals’ uniquenesses compliment each other commendably, and leads to a seamless blend of confident vocals and tastefully placed instrumentation.
In just 10 tracks, many of which sounding like they could be outtakes from Coldplay’s “Ghost Stories”, Ok Moon takes us on a journey that sounds like it is being recorded live in a small, dark room as a soundtrack specifically for you. The album cover, a web of warm and cool colored lines and splashes, reflects the mood of the entire album with feelings of inner warmth in a relationship that has grown cold decorated with positive intention. Piled with nature-based imagery taking us from the calming woodlands to the salty ocean side to the bewildering cosmos, “Ok Moon” is an ambient experience.
“In just 10 tracks, Ok Moon takes us on a journey that sounds like it is being
recorded live in a small, dark room as a soundtrack specifically for you.”
The first track “Loved You Right” already invites you to listen to the album on repeat, sounding as if it could be interchangeable as the first or last track of an album. The phrase “If I only loved you right” repeats throughout the duration of the song, transitioning into a deceptively cheerful instrumental portion. The song ends lyrically somber, yet musically optimistic.
Soon comes “Harpoon”, expressing freeness and transparency by stating “Hopeful wind / Drags me in / I’m not far from being water.” Entranced by a love interest, the delicacy of the singer’s emotions is evident. “Stones” follows, potentially earning a place as the most lyrically developed on the album. “So much can happen in a year / Is trading blame still ones of them? / Cut the claims I’m standing here / You wanna talk I’m listening,”
“Hollow Tree” reveals the emptiness felt by a person, pondering what could have been while preserving old memories as keepsakes. “Searching for the maps they never made,” echoes, illustrating feelings of being lost due to one’s own fault - something we can all relate to. With an understanding tone, the speaker looks at himself and the subject for who they truly are. The song examines what is still left when the night comes to an end, when a relationship is over, or when you’re left isolated in your own thoughts.
Tebbutt declares “Sure Man” as his favorite track on the album, acknowledging the warmth it brings to a cold situation. Defined high pitch guitar strums creep behind the vocals, mimicking the hidden secrets and unsure feelings the song explores. Then, feeling like a liberating escape, “I Went to You” sounds like running through the night with a pulsing heartbeat. A personal favorite off the album, this hypnotic tune marks a dreamy exploration stating “I called the comets in my sleep / Falling stars in blue and green.”
Beginning with the sonic equivalent of twinkling stars in the open sky, the final track “Back to You” allows the album to come full circle. Here confirms that the narrator will always return back to the love interest. With staccato instrumentation pulsating in the background, it exudes a distinguished sounds from the others. All leading to a dramatic build up at the end, the soft tones collide with heavier percussion creating ultimate suspense.
As a collection of gentle songs that resemble a movie soundtrack, Ok Moon is an album that would play in the background of your life’s defining moments. With a repetitive sense of longing throughout the tracks, the musicians express regret without ever pitying themselves, and reflection in a way that demonstrates a genuine appreciation of what they had.