Best Move – Relational Memory

When death and disease hit, it’s a disorienting experience. It feels like the world is shattering. But life still moves on and there’s still beauty to behold.

Such is the context of Best Move’s Relational Memory, a moody, 90s-alt flavored record that shows hints of The Smashing Pumpkins, The Pixies, and Copeland alike. Much like the band’s lyrical themes, they sonically find themselves also within the crosshairs of past and present.

The three-piece play to their limitations, and you won’t find a lot of layers that you wouldn’t expect in the live experience. There are keys, drums, and bass primarily, and sometimes some orchestral strings or different synth patches are thrown in to round off. There’s a bit of guitar here and there, but it’s not primary by any stretch. Most of the moodiness is frankly carried by the reverby vocals that draw comparison to shoegaze a bit.

This is a sleepy sort of record, though it’s not inherently sad. It’s restrained and gentle, even a bit raw at times. “Caldera Collapse” even sees the vocal plosives more obvious in the mix, for instance. There are a fair share of ballads here, no doubt. But many tracks simply feel like early mainstream alternative with a little bit of emo-adjacent influence flowing in. Other times, it feels like the band is borrowing a bit from the Fleetwood Mac playbook (see “Tule Fog”). Of course, there’s always one element at play that confounds any easy genre label.

While it’s not a bad effort, it does lean a bit too heavily on a narrow emotional range. The strings can get a bit tiring, and there are pockets where vocal delivery isn’t as strong as I’d like. As I mentioned, the production is a bit raw and while there’s a beauty in this, it also backfires here and there and now and then, a “cheap” moment shines through. Many listeners might not notice or care – it’s not typically glaring – but it is something I think could be rounded out for the next effort.

But ultimately, tracks like “Real”, “Puzzle of Drugs”, “Relational Memory”, and “Tule Fog” serve as strong anchors to the album that show some of the best that Best Move have to offer. There’s definitely an audience for the trio, and a couple tweaks could help take the next release to an even greater plane.

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