Pop bashing still seems to be a favourite sport of many music critics/reviewers. Sure enough, there’s quite enough bad pop out there, but then there’s bad music in any other music genre you could name. So, is there anything you need to criticise in pop if it is well crafted, well-executed, and above all catchy pop music? Nothing really. Actually, it deserves as much praise as any other. After all, you have to come up with something good within very strictly set parameters that good pop music demands. It has to be listenable, respect certain formulas within subgenres, be well-performed, and still inventive within all those limitations. German band Moon Mates do exactly that on their debut EP with a quite catchy title itself ‘Random Dad Barbecue Music.’
Listening to the EP, you quickly find out why they have already had extensive airplay in their native Germany. They follow the cues set up by such masters of sophisticated pop/folk/rock that are Fleetwood Mac. Quite big shoes to fill even by better-known artists.
Actually, Moon Mates started brewing as a group in 2019, to formally become a band in 2020, smack dab in the middle of the pandemic. “We began our career by being cancelled,” says guitarist and co-songwriter Benjamin Hoffmeister. “At first we thought it would give us more time to perfect the songs, but when the lockdown didn’t lift, we realised we had started a band at the worst possible time.”
Well, maybe that gave the band time to hone down and perfect their music, which seemingly they did. The evidence in excellent melody and tempo shifts on all the tracks with ‘Don’t Wait’ and ‘Ghost Lights’ particularly excelling in that department.
Yet, the Moon Mates key strength may lie with the excellent vocals of Gloria Muschaweck – who has vocals that at the same time recall all those great female singers and not one single one in particular. Of course, her vocals wouldn’t do the trick by themselves if they weren’t supported by some excellent, but at the same time subtle backing that forms a foil for Muschaweck and makes the five tunes turn into well-crafted pop. The perfect medicine for pandemic times.