Columbus musician Jack Sipes, who makes music as Moon, just released a single from his upcoming debut album, “you snuck me into your darkness.”
The production on “Mentally” strikes a tricky balance. It’s slick and glossy, and the synths alternate between warm and cold, like moon is trying to dial in the perfect bathwater temperature. It sounds good.
At the same time, though, “Mentally” is menacing. The build simmers under the surface, almost undetectable, until the guitar comes in and you suddenly realize that you were a frog slowly boiling in a pot. The scratches of guitar strings are the only indications that this was a homegrown project and they lend an intensity to a song that might have been sunny in the hands of another. As it stands, it falls squarely in the same moonlit patch of earth that contain “A Forest” by The Cure, or Big Black Delta’s more low-key moments.
A favorite part of the song, and what feels like could be one of the nerve centers of the entire album, comes as an hourglass-shaped passage of music with cascading melodies that sound like they’re being methodically clinked across the bars of a steel cage. This interlude inspires real feelings of fear or panic, and its sense of urgency makes it a suitable fit to soundtrack a level of Temple Run. Or the background music for a paranoia episode of a person who is steeped in the practice of using music to intentionally induce emotion.
The broody calm in the beginning, coupled with the pendulum swing of the instrumental interlude, seems to mirror a biorhythmic cycle of anxiety—worry about an unsavory event, calm yourself down, and then feel anxious about the fact that you’re calm.
“A pushover is all I’ll ever be” is the defeatist refrain of the song. But next to sure-handed lines like, “I’m done with thinking I had any fault,” it’s clear that this track is one for people who are honest and okay with living in a middle-state of uncertainty. Even if only for a breath.
Moon’s album is out December 1.