Ohio group Moths in the Attic released their self-titled debut Moths in the Attic in the fall of last year - a time when the landscape becomes more desolate. The days darker. The air colder. This album, in many ways, mirrors the season. Its instrumentation can be dark, and its lyrical topics darker, as it delves into themes of personal demons, unwanted memories and death. The band is upfront about how personal this album is. According to the group, in “the spirit of the inner journey expressed in the music,” they are donating a portion of Moths in the Attic’s sales to local chapters of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. If you are considering purchasing the album, let this be even more of an incentive.
Ten years ago, Zack Fletcher began writing the songs that would eventually become Moths in the Attic. When the time came, he recruited numerous musicians to help record the album. So many, in fact, that they are often referred to as a collective. According to the group, the main players are Fletcher (vocals/guitar), Michael Williams (saxophone) and Kevin Jorrey (percussion). But many other instruments that show up on the album include violin, cello and upright bass. On Moths in the Attic, the collective has conjured up a style from a mix of genres, including dark folk, alt-rock, jazz and alt-metal. And the mix hits its target. The album is cohesive, the songs fully fleshed out, and by the end, one cannot help but feel uplifted.
The opener, “Seedling,” is a dark-folk epic with an unsettling string arrangement in the intro that could easily soundtrack a movie. The song opens up halfway through with thundering drums and dramatic strings. An impressive acoustic guitar run follows this crescendo and, if played on an electric guitar, would make this a metal song.
The next track “Forward” is more uptempo with an ebbing and flowing energy. The peaks are covered with electric guitar riffs and rolling drums — the valleys with eerie strings and ambient saxophone.
“Chase Away the Ghost” begins softly and has the band embracing their folk influences. Fletcher plays roots-y acoustic riffs, reminiscent of John Butler, over a droning cello. The drums are played with brushes, and once again, the saxophone is filling in the spaces. All of the band’s elements come together beautifully on this track. Like "Seedling," this song kicks into high gear in its second half with Fletcher's vocal talent shining.
Weaved throughout Moths in the Attic are themes of death. Memories haunt like ghosts, and old selves are put to rest. Song titles like “Chase Away the Ghost,” “Apparitions,” “Departures” and “Dead Ends” paint a dark picture. But as you dig into these songs, there is light in them. During the climactic ending of “Chase Away the Ghost,” Fletcher belts the refrain, “Wanna chase away the ghost.” And on "Departures," he claims, “Today’s the day I set my memories aflame.” Both are uplifting moments of self-confidence and resolve.
Moths in the Attic’s cohesive, layered songwriting and engaging instrumentation demand repeated listening. As the album’s themes are unpacked, prior notions about dark days and ghosts transform into something brighter. Thoughts of rebirth. Of spring. Of shedding old skin and re-emerging as someone altogether new. After all, it’s probably not ghosts that you hear in the attic, but moths.
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