I was thinking when David covered ViVii recently that they’re fast becoming ‘our most featured artist’ in these pages. But I then remembered the even more frequently referenced ARMY of MOTHS, and it so happens they have a new EP / Mini Album of sorts out. It’s called ‘The Canine Trilogy’ and as you might have guessed, it’s all about our 4 legged ‘not a cat’ friends.
Of course, ARMY of MOTHS, with their curious blend of pop, psych, indie and rock, are not entirely Nordic. Their principle members are Scottish and English, but yet again on this occasion they’re joined by 2 ‘superstars’ of the Norwegian music scene, Sondre Veland, officially the best drummer on the planet, and all round top guy André Lund (guitars and mixing), both of whom having had the misfortune to have either played, or still play, with Major Parkinson. This of course makes the Moths officially Nordic, and certainly far more so than The Dowling Poole, who I once let slip through into NMR on account of them claiming ‘they sometimes felt a little bit Swedic’.
'The Canine Trilogy' follows on from two albums featured on these pages, ‘Sorry to Disturb You’ and ‘By Word of Moth’, the latter which contains one of my favourite tracks of recent years, ‘Wired To The Moon’, as well as ‘Touched by the Power of Dog’, which if you hadn’t noticed, is another track about dogs.
The new EP opens with erm ‘Dogs’, a cacophony of noise, a dog bark and then a driving upbeat introduction, which immediately veers between the conventional and leftfield, cheery pop melodies accompanied by offbeat twisted rhythms and a vast array of supporting instrumentation and ideas, that catapult the track in every direction.
‘A Canine Prayer’ is an epic 9 minutes, although quite touchingly it’s not actually about an actual dog, rather band member ‘Lady Moth’s’ childhood ‘dog on wheels’. Early on we get a hint of what’s to come musically with a quite beautiful ‘Major Parkinson’ style vocal tune just over 1:20 in, before the most stunning musical build up just under 5 minutes that carries the track to levels we probably haven’t seen from the band previously – a huge anthemic progressive rock theme, all belted out in homage to a toy dog. It’s utterly marvellous.
But the ‘dog on wheels’ isn’t finished, morphing into ‘Astropup’, a super hero ‘made of love, chosen to protect the universe’, which might of course seem somewhat far fetched but just go with it, an entertaining prog power pop rock‘n’roll stage musical boogie woogie blast, delivered at a pace only equalled by the flying dog himself. The huge ending is simply stunning and ‘goosebump’ inducing. And those of you that have sat out recently during the the warm nights and seen what you think is the International Space Station flashing overhead at 30,000 KPH, well think again my friends, think again.
'The Canine Trilogy' isn’t just my favourite release of 2021 by a country mile, I’m struggling to think of any EP / mini Album that I love quite as much as this over the last 30 years plus. Of course the fusion of Bowie, Cardiacs and others is right up my musical street, but this is just great fun, packed full of melodies and ideas, joyous without a hint of melancollie (that's the only one I promise), written too with such warmth and energy. Yet throughout it always retains that unique independent spirit involving 2 people writing tunes in a living room somewhere ‘up north’ just because they love doing so, and producing the whole thing on the tiniest of DIY budgets.
But the other impressive thing is that not only is their songwriting getting better and better, but the scale of their tracks is reaching an extraordinary level too, and that means 'The Canine Trilogy' has hours of repeat listening to be enjoyed. I would also suggest that it demonstrates that André Lund (responsible for the mixing) is a genius.
Magnificent, absurd, beautiful and totally life-affirming, ARMY of MOTHS have no idea what they’ve done, or what they’re capable of - and we love them for that as much as anything.