2 Dec 2022
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Racing - Album Review: Must Be The Moon

26 Oct 2022 // A review by Adrian Drew
Must Be The Moon is the sophomore album from electro-rockers Racing. Boasting the talented line up of Ed Knowles and Sven Pettersen (The Checks), Daniel Barrett (Sherpa) and Izaak Houston (Space Creeps), it's not surprising that the band have achieved some notable success. Not only winning NZ Music Awards, but sharing the stage with; Oasis, REM, AC/DC, The Hive, Muse and The Killers! If that's not enough, the album boasts a whole swathe of Aotearoa's finest, including; Peter Urlich, Debbie Harwood, Rikki Morris, Mauricio Miller and Matthias Jordan. Ok, I'm starting to sound like an infomercial, let us proceed...

Firstly, the production, it's excellent, but who expect anything less from Dave Eringa. Having mixed acts such as, Manic Street Preachers and The Who, Must Be The Moon was in good hands, no great hands. Recorded at the LAB, to which I've heard mixed results, but this is definitely a quality recording. Personally, I really like the phat bass cutting through, the drum treatments and some of those The Black Keys style guitars. It often sounds like they recorded some tweedy amp thing in a church with a vintage ribbon microphone, tasty!

Single Southern Lovers kicks the whole thing off, it's big stadium number with really great vocals from Ed. Big fan of the solo in the bridge, this whole song is just a great way to start an album. Next up is Flashbacks, a super compressed indie dance rock number, it's got me chair dancing. I'm sure there are 37 snares in the mix, sounds awesome. Reminds me a lot of Hockey and MGMT. I can even hear a house remix of this tune and I'm pretty sure there's steel drums splattered about.

So, three songs in and it's another single In Silver, but the whole album is packed with singles, I counted a possible seven! In Silver has been very popular on commercial radio, I don't think I've seen it drop out of the Radioscope Rock Airplay Chart since its release. It's obviously shares a familiarity with The Killers, in a good way, and has to be one of New Zealand's finest written songs of late. then comes a song like Nobody But Baby, showcasing the headline act material that is Racing. I could happily welcome in the New Year with a deep extended cut of this track. I've also just realised that I keep saying to myself, this is my favourite track, no this is my favourite... and so on.

Must Be The Moon takes break from the big crowd dancing numbers, as we hit the album's centre. The Soul enters with a distant organ, marching beat drums and a soulful, almost acapella Knowles. I'm hearing a touch of Northern Soul to it, spangly guitars and very psychedelic. The first song on the album to pull right back on the tempo and it works a treat. We stay down tempo but up in the north of England where Magic Sticks has a distinct John Lennon vibe going on. This feels like a crowd sing-along, hand claps included. Here we have the band displaying their diversity, these aren't just album fillers.

Now back in familiar territory, High For My Lovers is a beautiful calypso inspired funk fiesta. Yeah, I double down on my earlier steel drums comment. I think that's what NZ music does so well, infusion. What I love about Must Be The Moon, is that Racing haven't tried to deliver a one sound, one style kind of album. A great example of this is Hips, a funk-hip hop-swing-rodeo that Fatboy Slim got a hold of. Like so many songs, I want to hit repeat.

The album closes with the piano led The Gardens. Here the drums go back to that marching beat, although much slower and giving it a real swing. It's beautifully sung, great verse melody and the late entrance of the strings are gorgeous and moving. Yet I'm sensing an overall weariness, is this a representation of the toll it takes to be a working musician or am I looking too deep? Either way, it's a somewhat drawn out conclusion. Guess I'll just go back to the beginning and give the album another cheeky run through.

Racing feel familiar but also so fresh and now. Laden with head bobbing hooks, insanely catchy riffs, amazing melodies and all topped off with just the right vocals, Must Be The Moon isn't straight up rock, but check the Billboard Charts and you'll see the latest definition of rock, so maybe they are?? To me they're a gathering of many genres and it's something they've mastered incredibly well. Rev it up and let's go Racing!

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Racing

Auckland-based four piece, Racing, take rock and roll and inject it with a chemical haze so potent the listener is left both pleased and punished. Once likened to “the thoughts of a crocodile in flood season”, the band crafts a swirling sea of groove and hypnosis into rock anthems drenched in weird tropical dance music.

Racing released their debut album Real Dancing in 2019. They were subsequently nominated for Best Rock Artist at the 2019 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. Singles Motel Pool, Run Wild and Party Slow all reached number one on the rock music charts.

Racing is made up of long-time collaborators Ed Knowles (vocals) and Sven Pettersen (guitar); two crucial parts to the colossus that was The Checks. The two time Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards winners (Best Rock Album) from Auckland, made their way into the pages of NME while sharing the stage with Oasis, REM, The Hives, AC/DC, The Killers and Muse on different tours. Knowles and Pettersen are joined by two other heavy hitters from the Kiwi Alternative scene - Daniel Barrett (Bass) formerly of Sherpa and Izaak Houston (Drums) formerly of Space Creeps.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Racing

Releases

Must Be The Moon
Year: 2022
Type: Album
Real Dancing
Year: 2018
Type: Album
The Bass
Year: 2017
Type: EP
Racing
Year: 2015
Type: EP

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