Pay Attention, Be Amazed!
Marlaena Moore confidently demands your attention with the title of her third LP: Pay Attention, Be Amazed! Indeed, Moore’s honest lyrics and crystal-clear voice are bound to amaze anyone who has paid any attention to her output since she released her first album in 2016, the aptly titled Beginner. Her latest, perhaps more understated and melancholy than her previous two (including 2016’s Gaze), once again showcases her gorgeous voice, reminiscent of indie superstars such as Mitski and Lomelda, yet unique in its soft and smooth timbre.
Most of these songs are tales of lost love, imploring her lover to accept her for who she is (“Love As Is”), or else to not hurt her and destroy her most beautiful and vulnerable parts (“Please Don’t Cut My Garden”). Perhaps the crown jewel of the record is “Xmas Oranges,” propelled forward by a thrum of guitar, synth and strings, as Moore poetically recounts her frustrations toward an uncooperative partner: “Christmas oranges / I don’t care for sticky citrus / You can’t even tell the difference between love and fatal interest.” Moore expresses her complicated feelings with stunning clarity toward the end of the song, when the instrumental slows down and she traces her patterns of behaviour back to when she was “Five years old / Impulsive, pure heart / Running with a fist of flowers / Wishing that this tire would just fly me to the sun.”
The songs are not incredibly varied in terms of tempo, instrumentation or lyrical content, yet Moore has a knack for simple yet lovely melodies that give each song its own distinct feeling. “All Alone (Full of Love)” is a beautiful, swinging track that sounds like Roy Orbison singing a romantic Disney waltz, “Carve” is a guitar-forward ballad that showcases Moore’s vocal range, particularly her incredible upper register, and “Imposter” is a delightfully upbeat depiction of struggling with imposter syndrome.
Moore credits her musical collaborators Chad VanGaalen, Chris Dadge and Scott Munro (and others) with moving her music in a more collaborative direction. She is certainly the star of this project, but this collaborative spirit has brought a new robustness to her music. Moore is clearly committed to growing and changing as an artist, and it will be interesting to see what flowers she plants in her musical garden next. (Independent)