Album Review :
We Shot The Moon - Fear and Love

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Artist: We Shot The Moon
Album: Fear and Love
Label: The Militia Group
Buy: Amazon MP3/The Militia Group
Review by the Headless Horseman.

1. The Water’s Edge

2. Sway Your Head
3. LTFP
4. Faces
5. Perfect Time
6. Tunnel Vision
7. Julie
8. On Your Way
9. Hope
10. Upon Waking She Found Herself A Cougar
11. Into the Blue
12. Please Shine

As I write this, it’s 1:46 A.M. I spent most of today working and most of the last hour listening to the latest acoustic, digital-only Alkaline Trio single. I wasn’t actually planning on writing this review right now; I’ve been trying to songwrite for the past few hours. I’m not having any luck. I’ve been stuck with writer’s block since October (no pun intended). I don’t think We Shot The Moon have ever (in their rather short career) had this problem. I say this not because We Shot The Moon manifest born natural-sounding songwriting ideas throughout Fear and Love but because it feels like the band took any old ideas that happened to grace their collective heads, jotted them down quickly without bothering to, you know, make sure they were good ideas, and thus a record was born.

Time out. This may seem a bit harsh. You might be thinking, “Hey, Headless, weren’t you rather fond of the EP? You gave it a pretty nice write-up.” Well, yeah. And I stand by what I wrote there. Let’s start by talking about the EP, though. Sans the closer (and probably the best song) “Welcome Home,” it’s all here. It smacks you across the face the first time you try to listen to Fear and Love. I know bands breaking into the scene for a debut often re-release EP tracks. No big deal, right? Generally, maybe, but most of these bands don’t make the first three debut tracks EP cuts. Fear and Love opens with the all-too-familiar “The Water’s Edge.” It’s not a better song than it was on the EP, when it was, well, a mediocre song, with a fairly nonsensical, somewhat pleasant (for the first couple of listens) chorus. It was forgettable on the five-song EP, and it’s a forgettable opener here.

Time out again. Is that such a big deal? After all, Composure opened with the fairly mediocre “Shades of Grey” and was a positively great record. Let’s not be hasty. Point granted. The next two cuts are two of the record’s best. “Sway Your Head” and “LTFP” are catchier (if anything) than the opener, and they don’t make you feel like an idiot for listening to them. The lyrics are much better, and the songs are overall more interesting. Well and good. The next cut is “Faces.” It sounds pretty much like the previous three tracks, except with a chorus that not only isn’t as catchy, it’s not half as competent as the previous two (“If you slow down, could it ever be this fun? In a small town, with nowhere else to run, give it time; figure it out. Get in line and narrow it down. You’ll go farther than you ever thought you could.“). The idea is simple enough, but it sounds like the lyrics sort of needed to rhyme after that, and so the band threw in basically whatever words rhymed, no matter how cliched the sentiment or how little the finished product makes sense. Not that it’s not a fun listen, but it makes the listener realize that We Shot The Moon should probably mix something up right about now.

And they oblige. “Perfect Time” is, up until the chorus, a rather endearing (if slightly simplistic — not always a bad thing) piano ballad. And then the chorus hits. Why We Shot The Moon insist on ruining good song ideas with dull, choppy, power-chord infused choruses is beyond me. The lyrics are trite and repetitive enough (“You are, you are the only one for me. You are, you are the only one for me. I tried for years to get this right. I’m not about to lose this fight.”) without sounding like Jonathan Jones is covering the latest Hinder ballad. And for the record — anyone writing lyrics for a band, please, please, please heed my advice — never under any circumstances should keeping a girlfriend be compared to winning or losing a fight. This is a very bad idea.

The rest of the CD, believe it or not, is sort of like this. “Hope” and “Julie” are pretty decent songs until the band unleashes their inner nu-metal group. The former has a reasonably dumb first verse, a pre-chorus that makes it sound like the song might turn out to be great, and an incredibly disappointing (and did I mention plodding? It’s practically a breakdown, for heaven’s sake) chorus. “Into the Blue” has a truly atrocious chorus and bridge. “On Your Way” is very close to being a good song, and then Jones breaks out a vocoder. Wow. We’ve really sunk that low. It’s still pretty close to being a good song, and considering the mediocre (and that’s sort of generous) chorus lyrics, that says a fair amount. You get the picture.

No, the record’s not entirely this poor. “Tunnel Vision,” immediately following “Perfect Time,” puts it utterly to shame. This is a piano ballad that’s interesting, that isn’t stupid (not even the hippie throwing the narrator a peace sign), that is reminiscent of the tale of the prodigal son, and, perhaps best of all, that sounds nothing like Nickelback. “Upon Waking She Found Herself A Cougar” proves that the band has written more than one totally perfect mid-tempo pop tune (the other being “Sway Your Head”). It’s the best track, musically speaking, on the CD, and it proves that the departure of the Sherwood boys hasn’t hamstrung We Shot The Moon completely; they really can do better than post-grunge-with-pianos. The lyrics are very well done; they really can do better than, well, most of the other lyrics on this CD. The vocals and the hooks are to die for. While this makes for an excellent listen, it also leaves this listener wondering how much of Fear and Love went so wrong.

We Shot The Moon fade out after “Please Shine,” a truly moving love song that is, well, pretty much everything “Perfect Time” isn’t. But by now, the damage has been done. Some of the songs on this disc are truly near intolerable. Lyrical examples ranging from mildly trite to absurdly poor are not in short supply. The number of genuinely interesting musical passages can be counted on one hand. Even the chorus hooks, the true pop staple, are sometimes just forgettable. I’m not going to tell you you definitely won’t like this CD, and with eight of the twelve tracks available for streaming (see the above links) and the CD only $6 on iTunes (and cheaper with an eMusic plan or free trial), you shouldn’t take my word on anything I’ve said here. As for me, though, I don’t know if I’ll ever listen to half of these songs again. Before I thought We Shot The Moon’s potential was nearly limitless and with time, their skills would far outweigh their shortcomings. Now I’m not at all sure. Boys, you’re on notice. It takes more than a few rhyme schemes and power chords to write a good pop record.

Rating: 4.5/10
Standout Tracks: “Sway Your Head,” “Tunnel Vision,” “Upon Waking She Found Herself A Cougar,” “Please Shine”
RIYL: Copeland, Leeland, Waking Ashland, Mae, Pillar’s or Kutless’s softer material.