Non Nordic Sunday: Army of Moths - 'My Kingdom for a Horse' (EP)
We have 2 Non Nordic selections this week, although it could be argued that Army of Moths have so many Nordic music connections, they could be included along with all the other artists that write about – and not that any of these ‘country’ labels really matter anyhow. Their latest EP ‘My Kingdom for a Horse’ was released just last week, and the Glasgow / Manchester trio (with some Norwegian support) have a lovely ability to combine whimsical and sometimes quite daft elements with powerful and moving passages of music too.
Army of Moths first appeared on the scene in 2018, although they had played together previously in the guise of The Polymorphic Love Orchestra, a great name even if it was maybe a little similar to The Polyphonic Spree, a band who they would probably class as amongst their influences. Those influences extend to a wide range of artists from Bowie to Cardiacs to none other than Norwegian band Major Parkinson, and it was supporting them on their UK tour that has now indirectly resulted in Major P’s extraordinarily talented drummer Sondre Veland playing on this latest EP, as well as former ‘Major’, Andre Lund doing all the mixing.
The result is a scintillating ‘beefed up’ version of Army of Moths, far more powerful and compelling than their album release from 2018 ‘Sorry to Disturb You’, which we enjoyed immensely but still felt somewhat lo-fi in its construction (not that there's anything wrong with that). It opens with title track ‘My Kingdom for a Horse’, a long intro where they appear to revel in having a live drummer to build the tension before it explodes into life with vocalist David Sheridon belting out ‘A Horse, A Horse, My Kingdom for a Horse’ as if the Moth kingdom does really need a horse right now. It’s an obvious catchy track that appeals on 1st listen and I equally love the weaving and beguiling instrumental sections that bridge the chorus sections.
But the highlight of the EP for me is ‘My Swan’, which just builds with such power, intensity and passion, the chorus having a hymnal quality both in its delivery and influence that means I really don’t want to end, the repeated refrain becoming all encompassing and not leaving my mind for hours after. It’s also, I guess, just a song about a swan.
They released ‘Not Alone’ as a single in 2019, and here Army of Moths demonstrate exactly my point about fusing together the serious and the silly – ‘Are we ready for the Chorus yet?’ asks Debz Joy before a delightfully daft nursery rhyme style tune provides the backdrop for the words ‘It doesn’t really matter ‘cos we’re all fu**ed’ in the end’.
And it all ends with ‘Winter Love Serman’, slightly in the shadow of the previous 3 wonderful tracks, but still thoughtfully conceived and which enables me to touch on a point I haven’t even had chance to make yet – that each ‘AoM’ track is just so packed full of ideas and tiny sounds, often providing visions of hundreds of little moths all fluttering around the band as they play, and all seemingly offering little tokens of love and peace as they fly. It is utterly heartwarming, with the array of sounds meaning that there are 'new things' to listen to every time the songs are replayed too.
Army of Moths will always be the humblest (and loveliest) of people, and that will never change, but I always felt they were a little unnecessarily apologetic about their music releases – as shown in the title of that debut album ‘Sorry to Disturb You’ , although I get that it's meant a little tongue in cheek. ‘My Kingdom for a Horse’, demonstrates why they need not say such things, and of course there is no doubt that the contribution of Andre Lund shouldn’t be underestimated either, as he is making them just sound pretty darn wonderful from start to finish.
Proving my point that they’re band full of ideas and new tunes, Army of Moths will release a new album later this year, which will be entitled ‘A Pleasant Nervousness’. We’re really looking forward to it already.