Graveyard Club – Moonflower

In some ways, Graveyard Club as a collective is more of a literary adventure than a group of kids hanging out in a cemetery. The band bonded over their mutual love of horror-fiction and a fascination for the likes of Sinatra and Dead Man’s Bones. The result is a sort of hazy, musical Dead Poets Society. There are vestiges of the macabre and terrible, but this is not a dark band by any stretch. Graveyard Club has always been fun, even when singing about how “it hurts, it hurts, it hurts, it hurts”. It’s a summery vibe, nostalgic even. Lyrics may touch on ghosts, witches, dead relatives, and the likes – but never from a point of doom or despair. They have redeemed these symbols as powerful lyrical fulcrums. This time around, things are perhaps a bit less optimistic.

Moonflower follows after Paradise, and it makes considerable progress forward. The former was not without its highlight tracks, but it was an album that felt divided between full arrangements and less-developed moments. I have no idea if the band saw my commentary, but what they’ve delivered this time around certainly feels like I’ve been seen and heard. The newest LP is balanced in all the right ways and is a perfect redemption arc with plenty of energy and atmosphere throughout.

The album opens with single “Nowhere”, a track that hits too close to home regarding the futility of relationships and trying to live life at the same pace as those around us. But this is wrapped in the soothing fabric of anthemic indie-pop.

“Rose Vine” carries a similar energy and cadence to “It Hurts”, quickly elevating it to an instant hit. There’s plenty of guitar presence here, as well as lush harmonies strewn about like candy at a parade. The ending pulls everything together nicely, and the lyrics aren’t anything to gloss over, either.

My heart’s like the high tide, it’s pulled by the moonlight

My head’s like a rose vine, it climbs toward the sunshine

I keep reaching for, something more, oh

This speaks to an inner wrestling between intellect and emotion and how they impact ambitions. It also cements a theme of longing that runs across the album.

“Another One Waits” continues seamlessly from its predecessor, and the two ultimately feel like one large composition. There are more moments reminiscent of “It Hurts”, like the lyrics, “You’re fine, you’re fine, you’re fine, you’re finally closer”. It’s not the most optimistic track, speaking of how even moments of victory can be strained by anticipation of when the second shoe will drop or the curtain will be pulled back.

The title track in turn reflects on the ephemera of friendships and the beauty of the moment.

When you are my age

You’ll feel the same way

The sparkle and the fade

A passing parade

It’s a slower, more somber track of sorts – but it hits like an emotional wrecking ball.

Richie Valens was the inspiration for “Valens”, a track that seems to be about living life to the fullest in light of the potential to die young. “If you’re gonna go, go all the way,” the band chants. But there’s still this overpowering sense of futility as the track ends with a sentiment of being forgotten. This is one of the darkest realities of materialism and nihilism: within a few generations, no one will remember you. Maybe someone with a fascination for history will find you in the family tree. But for most, you’ll be a nameless phantom despite your efforts in the here and now. While this is bleak, it’s important to show the logical end of a system of thought.

I’m guessing “Spirit Boy” is some sort of reference to a book or movie (I’m not well-read or well-viewed enough to specifically know which), but the reference to cheerleaders in grey and a conversation with a ghost feel too specific to be coincidental. Nonetheless, it’s a very visually-striking track.

“Broken Wide Open” carries a bit of a classic surf vibe which covers sentiments of deep depression. The end switches things open instrumentally, pairing emotional haze with introspective lyrics. Guitars become more melodic. Vocal tags echo and wash over like incoming waves. While the front part of the track isn’t necessarily the most compelling, the latter part redeems things nicely.

The album approaches its close with the explosive “Halloween”, one of the fastest and busiest tracks. Guitar is buzzy, harmonies are stacked, synths roar, and the result is a bit of a chaotic dance party. This is the kind of song that would actually work well as an instrumental, and it shows a side of Graveyard Club that doesn’t surface too often. More of this, please.

“Elegy” feels like an appropriate title for a closing track, and it’s definitely a somber reflection of life. Once again, it feels like there’s some sort of film or literary reference at play. But even without that context, these lines hit hard enough:

What you lose

You’ll find it again in the sky

Until then

It’s a lifetime of goodbyes

There’s no happy turnaround here. Hold onto what you love. You might see it again, or you might lose it forever. Is that a gamble you want to take?

Moonflower as a title seems to allude to beauty that rises in darkness. In some ways, it’s indicative of the album’s instrumentation paired against its heartbreaking lyrics. But run the same lyrics under a microscope and there are lessons to behold: I may know regrets from my own failings and losses, but I can pass them as a parable of warning to others. Life is short. Friendships fail. People die. We love and lose. We become forgotten. We may not have 50 more years – or even 50 more hours. Don’t take it for granted.

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