Flying Fish Cove – At Moonset

Moonset is the name of the debut album from Seattle four-piece, Flying Fish Cove. This titular framing of the ordinary; making usual events poetic is a device that’s used throughout an album of many gentle surprises.

From the outset this is an album that offers respite. The removal of all hard edges, sonically at least, offers an easily accessed set of tunes that get their drama from flutes, omnichords, jangling guitars, chiming bells and boy/girl call-and answer harmonies. It’s easy to use names like Belle And Sebastian, or the Pastels when you’re trying to inform your friends what Flying Fish Cove sound like. However, it’s not as simple as all that.

The centre of this sequence is informed by a modernism that addresses the urgency of the now. Softer musical passages don’t mean an avoidance of weight in lyrical content. Singer songwriter Dena Zilber populates her songs with tales of monsters and magic realism. Metaphors relay the hurt and fears of the current landscape. The division in communities, the urgency for repair and camaraderie, the sense of self that must be sustained – all topics that get turned over. Zilber puts forward a compelling case for inclusion, for fighting the monsters, for coming to terms with the dark.

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‘Manticore’ feels like the most aggressive track on the album. Angular, darker, and spiked with percussion. Mythologic beasts roam between our everyday experiences. Crystal shores, riding tigers – all these weird and wonderful stuff are called into existence. The dislocation between us in the now, and folklore of the past is lamented. In losing the old totems and motifs we’ve lost our connection to the greater scheme.

Other tracks also point to a disappointment in how we’ve allowed things to become the way they are. Our seeking out of a nice, safe, gentrified world is documented in ‘Home Sweet Home’. In protecting ourselves, we engage with corrupt landlords. In chasing our dreams we are pushed to the outskirts. “I don’t want to live on the outskirts, and alone.” Is a line that means more than one thing to more or less every person in a certain economic bracket at this time. “My face a disgrace” is a beautiful line that carries an ugly truth. We are the landscape that we’re complaining about. Flying Fish Cove don’t simply document – they empathize. We’re all in this together.

The absence of abrasive instrumental elements doesn’t mean that this isn’t a punk album. The spirit, grit, and drive toward inclusion, joy and community, is remarkable. There’s an audacity to some of the seemingly softer, but biting elements that make for a compelling debut. Flying Fish Cove have offered a unique view of themselves, their subjects, and the times in which we live. As understated as this album is, it is also nothing short of excellent.

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