Assaulting us with hard-hitting drums right out of the gate but quickly shifting gears into a lush melodic dispatch, “When You’re Around” doesn’t flirt with experimentation – it dives in head first and gives us Moonray at what could be their most abstract thus far. Taking cues from AV Super Sunshine, Leo Sawikin and a bit of Fenix X Smilo and forming it into a sound that is both vintage in style but very highbrow and modern in execution, Moonray pull off the gloves to give us as forward a display of pop simplicity as they can muster while still staying true to an Austin identity, and to me, it’s their first confirmed unmissable release.
The hook in this song, if you can call it that, is the stealthiest of all the attacks the band will hurl in our direction by the time everything is said and done. The percussion is the only element that isn’t slinking around casually by the time we get to the midway point of “When You’re Around,” instead pushing and shoving the vocal until its synthesized hue becomes too bruised to be a seamless part of the harmony. It’s violent and yet totally disciplined, but more than all that, this song comes together like a piece of uncut soul that simply has no means of communication other than ironic grit.
I just found out about this act in 2020, but if this trending tune is providing us with any kind of a glimpse into what their future work could consist of they’re not going to stay out of the spotlight for very long. Austin is home to one of the most amazing music scenes in all of the world, and even amidst one of the more absurd years ever experienced in this industry, bands like Moonray are proving that the city’s best days are definitely not behind it.
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