There are few albums that I would describe as "perfect". Maybe it's because I'm not a big fan of hyperbole or maybe it's because most albums have at least one or two songs that don't really match the quality of the others. If all of the songs are indeed top quality, the flow of the album has to be just right too. The songs have to work together in such a way that you are compelled to listen to the whole album everytime you play it. Now that's not to say it has to be some sort of "concept album" or "rock opera" - more often than not recipes for disaster - just that the album as a whole should have a dynamic to it that carries you from song to song. Lastly, there needs to be a sense of timelessness to the music. Five, ten, twenty years down the line it needs to sound just as fresh as it did when it was released.

The emergence of the shoegazer sound in the early 90's garnered a fair bit of fans and press for bands like Ride, Slowdive, Chapterhouse, and My Bloody Valentine. While fans and press are things most bands want, the shoegazer tag seemed to be something that these bands only wanted to distance themselves from as quickly as possible. I don't know if being tied to a certain "scene" was the issue, but each band seemed to make a conscious effort to change their direction and abandon the shoegazer sound - for better or worse.

Another band that got the shoegazer tag pinned on them during this time was Moose. Though never quite gaining as much attention as the others, Moose released a number of singles and three albums during the early to mid-90's. While their early singles did feature the heavily effected guitars and a bit of the dreamy/depressed vibe typical of the shoegazer sound ("Ballad of Adam & Eve" being one of the best songs from this era), there were other elements that hinted at a broader pop sound waiting to take centre stage. and it didn't take long for that to happen either, as their first full length, 1992's '...XYZ', was full of acoustic pop songs and a much more happy, almost whimsical tone. Their second album, 'Honey Bee' (1994), continued the move towards a purer pop sound, though there are some songs that sound like they could have been written during the time of the early singles. Because of this, 'Honey Bee' comes off a bit confused sounding.

I don't know what happened to the band's chemistry between 1994 and 1996, but it was definitely a good thing. On 'Live a Little Love a Lot' Moose delivers a great album of classic pop songs. This album goes down like a big, full bodied cabernet. it starts off very strong with the upbeat 'Play God"'which features backing vocals by the Cocteau Twin's Elisabeth Fraser. There are so many things going on in this song both musically and vocally that each listen uncovers something new hiding in the mix. Some strings here, a little delay on the guitar there, a dash of Elisabeth Fraser, all working together so well.

Strings and horns are peppered throughout the entire album adding a lushness and even a touch of brashfulness at times that both compliments and counters the buttery smooth vocals. There's an almost hypnotic quality to the vocals that is very soothing. Whereas the shoegazer bands buried the vocals beneath layers of guitars, Moose lets them float effortlessly on top of the music. Which isn't to say that the guitars aren't quite prominent. In fact, they are perhaps the strongest single element of the entire mixture. The guitar tone brings to mind those great spaghetti western movies and the music of Ennio Morricone. This comes off the strongest on the track 'Poor Man'" which ends with the sound of a lighter being flicked open and a cigarette being lit - the image of Clint Eastwood as the nameless drifter instantly comes to mind. This guitar tone is almost as strong on 'Old Man Time', which also adds in some harmonica, and the ultra smooth 'Love on the Dole'".

While the other Moose albums each had a single associated with them, the release of 'Live a Little Love a Lot' did not. If I had to choose a single for this album it could very easily be '"Last of the Good Old Days'. This song has the smoothness and richness found throughout the album and a dreamy feel that washes away any sense of worry one might have. Though to be honest, by this point in the album most worries are long gone and pouring that next glass of wine might be the only thing on your mind.

So is 'Live a Little Love a Lot' a perfect album? Well, all the songs are top quality. The album flows smoothly between upbeat and mellow moments. The songs have a similar tone to them which allows them to meld together nicely, yet they each have their distinct flavour. And the hypnotic quality of the vocals ensures that the next 45 minutes will belong to Moose. As for a sense of timelessness, the shoegazer scene seemed to die almost as quickly as it started, but the 8 years which have passed since this album came out surely have not taken anything away from its strength. In fact, like a good cabernet, this album seems to only get better with age.














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17869 Posted By: Leaman Crews (Middle America)

...along with the rest of the Moose catalog. Seems like when this album came out, me and about five other people in the United States gave a crap. Even fans of Moose's earlier works weren't too enthused with it, although most came around to it pretty quickly.

Criminally underrated band. They deserved more recognition in their day, and still do.


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