by Carter Delloro
It’s not a coincidence that Moving Castles’ album cover for their latest EP, The Want, bears a lot of similarity to the cover for Passion Pit’s Gossamer. Well, maybe it is, but it shouldn’t be. Moving Castles’ third EP in just over three years reaches for the same shimmery rafters. They just use more guitars, resulting in a set of songs that sounds like Passion Pit covered by Free Energy. It’s hip pop-rock for the boys from Dazed and Confused.
The EP’s first half, comprised of “I’m a Fever” and “The Want,” is the better half of a good group of tracks. When singer/guitarist/bassist/main songwriter John Eric Hetherington hits his high notes, he sounds bigger than ever before. Either of these tracks would sound right at home under stadium lights, with dashes of Temper Trap and Neon Trees that help them go down easily, without ever being as cloying as either of those groups. Hetherington knows his way around a good hook, and he doesn’t let any go to waste here.
If I could complain about one thing, though, it’s that Hetherington seems to be aiming for more generic lyrics on The Want than ever before. “I don’t want you any way/I don’t care what you say” from the title track is a far cry from, “Every time I see you/You try to sell me heroin” off Twin Daggers. Songs like “Heroin” and “Warhol” worked especially well because they were esoteric and offbeat. They sounded accessible, but weren’t lyrics you would hear on the radio. It made Moving Castles stand out.
I do like, though, that Hetherington crafts a record using a lot of second-person. It’s a technique you don’t hear a lot but it’s an effective one (think Not in the Face’s “Downtown Girl”), and helps the songs reach out and grab you as a listener. I just want something a little weirder, I suppose.
Hetherington is a foundational member of dark-wave band Knifight, and Moving Castles must be a nice outlet for his sunnier, pop side. Yet, it’s developed into more than just a side project. He’s got a total of 14 songs now under this moniker, and all told it’s a pretty impressive collection of work. Word is that there will be a full-length later this year, and I’m of the opinion that you can never enough too much Moving Castles. We’ll, of course, keep you posted.