Wild Moth- Inhibitor

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Friday, September 11, 2015

Inhibitor is the sophomore effort from Bay Area post punk band Wild Moth, and it’s one of those albums that made an immediate impression on me. Like many of their peers, these guys formed as a band whose sound was rooted in the moodier post punk and fuzzed out shoegaze riffs that had a distinctive 90s influence but this time around they seemed to have branched out considerably. The gloomier distortion and layers of sound are still there, but there’s a noticeable shift between rousing up-tempo numbers and slower, introspective pieces and this makes Inhibitor stand out as more than a mere 90s revival and a sign of a group coming into their own.

Though the ten songs fly by fairly quickly at just over half an hour in length, Wild Moth offers up plenty of strong hooks that ensure listeners will want to hit the repeat button after that first time through. What grabbed me initially was that every song seemed to have something different to offer. As much as I like the post punk/shoegaze aesthetic, there are quite a few bands out there that fall into a pattern after a song or two and ride out that for an entire album. Inhibitor makes it clear that it’s going to jump around quite a bit, as after a drearier piece that is led by waves of noisier distortion and softer melodies, the instrumentals jump up in energy towards a sound that has more of a melodic punk feel. There are even some sprawling guitar leads that remind me heavily of 90s alternative rock, particularly of the British variety (I’ve gotten a bit of a Swervedriver vibe from a couple of the songs). Wild Moth doesn’t stay in one place for too long, but even with all of this movement from one style to the other it never feels like they are sacrificing substance and each piece has a rough edged guitar lead or entrancing melody to grab your attention.

With how frequently the instrumental work on Inhibitor switches things up, it makes sense that the vocals would vary quite a bit as well. On opener “Mirror” the singing skews towards the mellower side, with the softer pitch hovering over the instrumentation with an airier feel. I would’ve been happy had Wild Moth chosen to stick with this mellower vocal delivery, but it was a nice surprise to find that they completely switch gears on “Gallery of Walls”. On this track both the lead and backup vocals go for a rawer approach that ups the punk side significantly and reminds of a whole slew of different bands. There’s a regular changeover between this rawer style and the much softer, sprawling type of singing that’s more in line with what people might expect from shoegaze, and this additional variation is another element that really makes these guys feel much more versatile than one might initially expect.

This has been one of those releases that I’ve been listening to daily since I first popped it into my stereo, as it has a little of everything I enjoy from anything post punk/alternative rock related. Wild Moth’s managed to merge the distortion heavy somberness of post punk and shoegaze with a healthy dose of up-tempo punk and hook driven alternative rock that recalls plenty of great 90s acts, but they never fall prey to feeling like a nostalgic throwback. It’s the type of record that you’ll want to throw on, crank up, and get lost in and I suspect that if you haven’t come across these guys before Inhibitor might just make you a fan.

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