Reviewed by: Shooter
So I’ll address the elephant in the room. Moving Mountains are not a post-rock band. This is why this review is going to be a short one. That it’s even here is merely to pay some service to fans of this band’s past works. Moving Mountains is a band with such celebrated and diverse albums under their belt (such as the groundbreaking post-rock/post-hardcore hybrid ‘Pneuma’), so it would be a misstep to overlook the way in which such a band has chosen to mature and adapt.
Speaking of past works, then. I have never agreed with much of the disdain leveled towards Moving Mountains’s last LP, 2011’s ‘Waves’. It may not have been an outwardly “post-rock” album (a point belabored by many) but still it had an atmosphere and craftsmanship that hinted of a group with a proud back-catalogue of forward-thinking, experimental rock. It was an accessible post-hardcore record experienced from behind a veil of dense, muddy and beautiful fog — one that I happened to love. The band’s post-rock leanings were tangible, if subtle; but even that is beside the point. That ‘Waves’ harbored any aspects of post-rock at all is inconsequential to its quality. I’m not going to slate an album for not being “post-rock” enough. I will if it’s poor. ‘Moving Mountains’ — the band’s purportedly final album — is poor. Yes I have now joined the ranks of the nay-sayers.
‘Moving Mountains’ is an acoustic-centric rock album with conservative dynamics, some moments of pretty instrumentation and lots of warm production. Never does it edge even remotely close to the extremes of anything. For one the screams are gone, along with any breadth to Gregory Dunn’s vocal capacity. What we have here is 40 minutes of adult contemporary music. It’s inoffensive, and the sort of thing that you’d play in the car when you’re giving your mother a ride to Zumba. There are elements to be enjoyed, of course; this is a band of talented musicians who know how to please the ears. The song “Eastern Leaves” comes together in a really satisfying way, with evolving layers of vocal motifs overlapping a gratuitously singable melody that subtly references “The Cascade” — a standout track from the aforementioned ‘Waves’. “Hudson”, too, features one of the smoothest and more satisfying changes in tempo and rhythm that I’ve heard in a while. It is a moment that gives some clue as to what this album could have been had the band embraced their heritage a little more. But that’s about it. Two songs that I have any notable memory of after having heard this album many, many times. It’s pretty a lot of the time, but bland for most of it.
Bands can either end their career with a bang or a whimper. ‘Moving Mountains’ signaled a band that was running out of steam, their passion waning, with an undeniable demise being worn upon the sleeve of their last hurrah.
tags: Ambient / Rock / post-hardcore