– by Louis Humberstone
Specimen, the debut EP by sparse three-piece Moreton, is a haunting collection of tracks that grows on every listen as the challenging sounds sink in.
Complex, dark themes are often hard to explore in music, but the Brisbane/ Byron Bay band bring music which is simultaneously melancholic yet beautiful, where the space between the various sounds becomes a key feature of the songs.
Moreton’s debut single and first track, “The Water”, is a compelling listen, inviting us into the dark world that the band have created. The track begins with a scant, rolling drum beat that adds an odd groove to the song, followed by droning guitar and floating vocals by frontwoman Georgia Potter. The bass in the track is almost unnoticed, moving about in melody and never settling. This instrumentation is crucial in complimenting the dejected vocal delivery. Potter sings, “I can dig my own way out of here if I/ I can run my own race if I’ve already lost” in a vocal hook that is both sad yet a subtle display of independence. Despite reaching over four minutes, “The Water” seems to end too soon, and warrants an immediate repeat.
The other standout track on the EP is “Johana”, a chilling alternative ballad that combines bleak lyrics with a haunting guitar hook and a pulsing drumbeat. As Potter opens with the line “Oh Johana/ You look like a ghost” her vocals convincingly mix indifference with emotion. The song is thoughtful and probing in a way that is rarely attempted by bands. Potter says of the track, “I hope Johana serves as a reminder to look out for one another. The downtrodden, the lonely, the dispossessed – they need not feel cast aside. We underestimate the potency of showing a little compassion, a little care towards each other.”
The band’s take on Alternative Rock is both contemporary and refreshing, finding new sounds out of the classic guitar, bass and drums set up. The lyrical development and unfamiliar instrumentation recalls early PJ Harvey, finding a space in which traditional Rock music may be manipulated to tell a different story.
Working with renowned Brisbane producer Matt Redlich, the band largely recorded Specimen live, with only vocal overdubs performed. The result is a minimalist EP which is both complex yet subtle. Contributing to the Australian music scene, the band have received airtime on both triple j and double j, and now look to their live performance with a series of shows on the East Coast.
Specimen is a new direction for Alternative Rock, moving into a haunting space that encourages minimalism, delicacy and thought to produce a standout debut EP for the band.