Denai Moore – ‘Modern Dread’ reviewed

❉ Bathed in hypnotic beats, pop albums do not come fresher, writes Eoghan Lyng.

While 2020 has produced many futuristic sounding singles, the new focus of competition has come from Denai Moore. Bathing herself in hypnotic trance beats, Moore transports the listeners into a world almost as unsettling as the one that has locked itself down around us. And yet, Modern Dread is a slick, blatantly commercial work, as evident by the way the songs are produced with such crisp, clear resonance. Pop albums do not come fresher, exalting a confident uniqueness in its sheen, shine and style.

As a standalone album, Modern Dread is not quite as good as 2017’s exceptional We Used To Bloom, but it does at least expand the idiosyncratic idiom she created for herself that year. While it was We Used To Bloom that created the musical language, Modern Dread uses this outlook to create a more adult template for both singer and listener to engage in. That it still merits the full five stars is merely an indication of how high the benchmark has been set. More than that, it creates whole paintings out of pictorial piano pieces, as can be heard on the haunting single Cascades.

To The Brink – saturated in synths, samplers and scat vocals – shows Moore’s impressive vocal range, channelling the tempos, temperatures and textures throughout the song’s rollicking four minute ride-out. Every song is shaped by Moore’s shimmering voice, but never at the expense of the content. For the majority of the album, Moore unveils an almost blinding succession of personas: there’s Grapefruit‘s able-minded, angelic even, chanteuse; there’s Slate 2020‘s jaunty, jumpy street-poet; not to mention the doyen that warns us of the apocalyptic landscapes that emanates in Turn Off The Radio. Cascades, released with a sprightly, colourful video to boot, demonstrates an even tastier flirtation into the realm of costumes, chandeliers and creations.

“I really wanted the Cascades video to translate like a weird, surreal dream, ” Moore explains. “The song is about feeling visceral sadness and being too caught up in your own headspace.” The video, in every dazzling permutation, captures another language, this time revealing Moore more as a person, than an artist. For behind each and every synth line, shading and character, comes an honesty unschooled in the dizzying, holistic world of music.

Soaking herself in the extremes of song-craft, soundscapes and literature, the album presents a prescient shift in tone for the singer. At its most perilous,the album ventures into the hallucinogenic, as can be heard on the startling Hail. A distracted and introverted track, Hail trades its authors’ usual disciplined demeanour for a more spontaneous style of vocal performance, a mood captured in the splashy, shifting keyboard lines. In the context of the album, the exploration captures an artist asking as much from herself as her listener. The journey, if flashy, is worth it.

Plastered with the ubiquitous drum echo, the song ends on yet another hymn like pattern. And much like the album it sits on, Hail is as dazzling a valedictorian anthem as any you’ll hear this year!

Denai Moore – ‘Modern Dread’was released July 3rd on Because Music. Buy Here.

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  A regular contributor to We Are Cult, Eoghan Lyng’s writing has also appeared in New Sounds, Record Collector, CultureSonar, Punk Noir Magazine, DMovies, Phacemag and other titles. Follow him on TwitterVisit his homepage. 

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