Moths – Space Force Review

Moths seemingly come out of nowhere. Often left unchecked, they move from chewing a couple holes in that one jacket you forgot about (and probably doesn’t fit you anymore anyway) to causing major issues with carpets, rugs, and insulation. These Moths are different, though. Hailing from Puerto Rico,1 Moths flutter about with vibe-heavy jazz doom hoping to infest oscillating melodies into your highest consciousness. Fresh to the scene with only one EP from the before times of 2018—which even included a King Crimson cover—Moths hope their vibrant, prog(ish) energy lends some freshness to the typically dank trappings of the stoner doom banner. All the same, I temper my expectations when I come across such a tag, especially when I spy a cover art that screams “whoa” and an album title that screams “best when baked.” So, without a weed pun in sight, can Space Force pack a cosmic bowl that will defend your mind from reality, or is it simply 10 mg of recycled Sabbath riffs?

Neither quite a bucket-fueled cough storm nor an end-of-the-baggie roll, a hit of Space Force is just enough for a proper nightcap. For starters, Moths pays only mild nods to the “Sweet Leaf” progenitors, often twisting pulsing grooves in refreshing ways. Their prior self-titled EP, in comparison, comes off as a much more straightforward stoner sludge outing with a jagged edge, reminiscent of Baroness‘s early Red/Blue works. But, rather than move down… whatever you want to call the unfortunate path that band went down, Moths decided to expand their sound with even more adventurous melodies, a growing synth presence, and tasteful tones abound, much like the jam-leaning Elder. Curiously, Space Force runs only a tame 30 minutes, possibly too little album. That’s a problem I can overlook.

In what time Moths does provide, Space Force manages to be a sonic treat at just about every turn, primarily at the frets of Jonathan Miranda and Omar González. With the opening shimmer of “Space Cowboy’s Ballad” laced through cosmic exploration of “Awake” the duo shows their love of playful, Pat Metheny-tinged passages which settle the stage for the thunderous moments that follow. Smooth is the name of the game when it comes to their transitions, whether it’s the slippery slides that give way to discordant verse in “Broken Slumber,” the vintage blowout interlude of “There’s No Place like Space,” or the dancing intro to slingshot titular closing track, Miranda and González fill Space Force with moments that demand repetition.

While the DR score may not read as highly as other numerically dynamic albums, there’s no denying the openness of this universe that Moths constructs. Lead vocalist Damaris Rodríguez leans into these voids with workman-tier barks and wailing rock cleans, which almost find too much space against tight rhythms and hypnotic fingerwork. For example, mid-album stomp “Unbound” opens with a huge Hammond hum and fuzzed-out bass trip, providing a sultry backdrop for Rodríguez’s reverb-soaked verse, but when the tension breaks to the soaring chorus, her voice soars just a little too far before she ropes it back in. At other times, though, her untethered echoes create a majestic resonance, like at the warbling open to “Awake” or the victorious crescendo of “Space Force.” 

I truly did not expect to enjoy Moths to this extent, but that’s the beauty of the great promo provider in the sky.2 I spend a lot of time searching for new things to listen to—too much time, arguably—and little of that odd tag crawling and unknown name sampling leaves me half as enlivened as the time I have spent with Space Force. In a short window this young band has found a sound that allows them to shine like a distant planet finally reflecting its sun’s light to our (telescope’s) eye. They’re still working out all the intricacies of their sound, which is fully expected of a debut. Yet somehow in that same framework they’ve managed to create an experience that is as relaxing as it is enthralling, similar to style of success that Messa pulled off earlier this year. Regardless, like a fiending moth to a skunky flame, I continue to come back to this nugget of skyward reverberations. Thanks, Moths!


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: WAV3
Label: Self-released
Websites: mothspr.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/mothspr
Releases Worldwide: August 12th, 2022

Show 3 footnotes

  1. A tag that officially now has TWO bands on this beloved site.
  2. Just kidding, they don’t allow apes in space.
  3. Thank you AGAIN, Moths!!!
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