At their heart, Buffalo Moon plays whimsical indie pop with a playfulness that is grounded by moments of straight-faced seriousness. Of course, “whimsical indie pop” is among the vaguest descriptions I could give. Delving deeper, the band blends a number of styles, drawing primarily from previous generations. The most notable elements come from the 1960s: bossa nova, samba, a touch of psychedelia, and a dose of Nancy Sinatra-style pop. The band claims Minneapolis as home, though the members were born in South Dakota and Ecuador, which somewhat explains the combination of rambling prairie exploration with a Latin American pulse. The Black Magic/Low Tide Moon 7” comes fresh on the heels of their debut full-length, Wetsuit.
The two-song 7” starts with “Black Magic.” As its title implies, there’s an exotic, somewhat kitschy feel that reminds me of Sean Connery-era Bond movies. The general vibe is something that a female villain would cook up: an untrustworthy seduction. With the complex rhythms leading the way, the vocals follow the drum and keyboard lead, jumping pitch and tempo and giving a charming touch to the meandering texture of the song. The band channels their influences well, mixing in a few funky basslines and underlying backing vocals to give an additional layer of experimentation that stretches it near five minutes. Somehow, all of these different elements come together, giving a hip-shaking jam suitable for dim lights pleasant conversation.
The counterpart is “Low Tide Moon,” which draws from similar elements but seeks a calming, beach-feel that starts with group harmonizing to a chorus of “Low tide moon/threw away my love too soon,” before the reflective caw of Karen Freire wallows with the surf in rumination. It’s not so much a b-side as a companion song that trades the enchantment of “Black Magic” for a melancholy lament. Instead of a woe-is-me post-breakup song, it manages a cool, finger-snapping quality that reflects not only loss and disappointment, but the innate ability to move on and reflect.
Overall, this 7-inch from Buffalo Moon walks a fine line: while there’s an undeniable kitsch to it, it doesn’t come across as winking or self-consciously clever. By drawing from classic influences and carefully arranging their songs, the band is resurrecting and expanding old genres, putting their own stamp on established tropes. It won’t appeal to all, but the drawn out emotions and swaying rhythm captures a distinct laid back, cool and collected attitude.
6.8 / 10
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