Music Reviews
Honestly, This World

The Moth & The Mirror Honestly, This World

(Olive Grove) Rating - 7/10

Inasmuch as indie music continues to straddle between niche and mainstream in search of uniqueness, Scottish rock continues to exist in its own place. Like a pendulum that oscillates perpetually, its ripe, pragmatic design is unconcerned with the demands of time. A lot has been publicized about how tired and arid it sounds, but some are willing to take the challenge, hoping to take its histrionic allure to new places before it actually goes haywire. Artists like The Moth & the Mirror will never trend – they’re classic renovators, pointing a scope with a clear sense of where the destination will take them.

However, these are not novice performers – the Scottish sextet have contributed in one way or another to well-established acts such as Arab Strap, Frightened Rabbit and Admiral Fallow. But don’t be tricked by the marketing machine – The Moth & the Mirror should be introduced by their own merit, mainly since their debut release is too finely tuned to remain a casual diversion proposed to fill the touring gaps of their more profitable projects. Quietly making an appearance, and very much late in the end-of-year for your consideration ballot, the band’s no frills approach should entice purists who believe indie rock should be stripped to its barest form.

Honestly, This World sketches a familiar guitar rock template with a frankness that is disarming as it is stimulating, infusing varied instrumental intonations into compositions that mostly follow a languid tempo. Soft Insides streamlines a minor chord that moves stealthily with the punch-ins of droning chords and distant bells. But oh, does lead singer Stacy Sievwright (whose voice is a cross between Hope Sandoval and Marcy Mays) add a new dimension to such drowsy drawl – Hope Is An Anchor showcases her wistful tonality, which turns playfully sinister once the soul-inflected ballad turns into an avant-jazz breakdown (think Gentlemen-era Afghan Whigs).

The sequencing in Honestly, This World is intriguingly mottled, vaguely reminiscent of the experimental (but strictly indie dynamic) touches that came from the post-Nirvana influx of the MTV2 bubblegrunge movement. Boxes lovingly drifts in its first half like a Scottish folk song, suddenly unraveling into an angsty gush of crunchy distortion. And when they’re not going fully acoustic, like in the tender embrace of Closing Doors, they can’t distance away from the dramatic aspirations of their Scottish counterparts – while Germany delivers jolting throwaway indie rock, Fire misfires by sticking to sing-a-long choruses and tasteless grand gestures. 

So, do The Moth & The Mirror salvage the diminishing respect for Scottish rock? Not really, but it needn’t be. Honestly, This World, just like its fatalistic title implies, is a little unsure about its place in the world. At times, it tugs at your heart with elegiac eloquence, while others it wants to prove itself in a boisterous manner with skillful determination. Sticking to familiar ground while adding a little more spice to conventional tropes is what makes them a future force to be reckoned with. As for defending their native soil, they’re waving the flag triumphantly.