The Mobius Band
The Loving Sounds of Static
n the title-track of their City vs. Country EP, the Mobius Band gave us an uneasy glimpse of their own future. Against a cold crystal bank of synths and pings, lead singer Ben Sterling complained that “Each month / You lose your touch / A little more.” Sure, he could have been referring to any thing. But I’m pulsing all Nostradamus this eve, and I’m laying out the trifecta that he was already a little aghast by the band’s lyrics for their developing LP.
See the Mobius Band started as a wheezy electronic trio. They warmed a glitzkrieg bath of hazy synthetic bubbles and slick tingling gels without any lyrical component. With City vs. Country, perhaps not accidentally their first recording on Ghostly and the one that really gained them notice outside the bedroom circuit, the band pushed Sterling closer to stage-edge. He became a bona fide front-man, and his first lyrical outings were effective if not stunning. Mixed by Interpol-guru Peter Katis—who also does the mixing for this full-length—the result was a startlingly effective blend of jagged post-punk guitars, studio fuckery, and tangential lyrical refrains. The band wisely left its words a fingertip away from sense; they knew how to gauze them in haze and distance. Consequently, everyone had their own read. Nothing could be misinterpreted under their vague notions of devotion and social disease.
On their debut full-length, The Loving Sounds of Static, the band has opened the curtains. And ain’t nobody gotta see this flabby boy gone naked. “Twilight” is a dazzlingly superficial stab at the ethical void of modernity. Atop candle-drip twinklings and stuttering live drums, Sterling sings “I will teach my children to lie / They will know it’s wrong to be right / It’s the only way they’ll ever get paid.” Well, I just this instant woke up, a day-gone Rip Van Winkle, and I must say I’m amazed. Society is fucked. Ethics, a mere token for greasing the wheel. A quick wassup and how-ya-do, Mike Wallace.
“Radio Coup” (silence in front) doesn’t fare much better at masking their overt sense of frustration. Like much of the record, the band’s instrumental talents are obvious from the front. A starving bassline drives the propulsive rhythms and Strokes-like guitar lines, but the moment Sterling steps in, “Newspapers funded by oil-makers,” you’re jilted out of the blistered gutter ethos by toothless commentary. You almost wish it was back-sided, ragga-like, by a dub version sans vocals.
Still, as I mentioned, the only reason Loving Sounds warrants such quiet vitriol is the trio still pack a mighty wallop musically. The production is sharp without sacrificing complexity. Each song seems to trip through lay-backs and start-agains with a crooked love for sheer momentum. The band always seems cohesive, allowing each member its own layer in this dense razor-fog. “Close the Door” is a glow-bug germ for the night. Short, stubby beats introduce hazy psychedelic guitar rushes, and Sterling steps back to allow the band its moment in the spotlight. Slowly surging only to pull back with the threat of exhaustion, the band creates a street-light summons for aborted loves and social trespass. Likewise, the title track is a brass-bollocked surge, easily the record’s most cut-throat song. Against a guitar hook born for the repeat press,, Noam Schatz’s live drums tom-tom like Keith Moon, rope-veined on modern pharms. Most importantly, Sterling returns to his oblique sense of wordplay and allows you your own translation.
But, shit, we’ve long known the Mobius Band could headtrack our daydream hide-aways. With City Vs. Country, we began to think they might play a larger role in our hear-and-now. Well, we’ve been misled. Unless of course, you don’t speak English. In that case, dude, stuff this right next to your Café Tacuba and Plastilina Mosh records and tip back the worm.