the ann arbor, michigan quartet pity sex is a pop band masquerading as a shoegaze outfit. beneath gloomy exteriors lie adroit guitar melodies and strong vocal hooks, a trait the band first explored on their 2013 debut feast of love and have now set out to perfect on its follow-up, white hot moon. co-vocalists britty drake and brennan greaves again team up for listless explorations of infidelity and longing, toggling between downtrodden narratives and pointed conversations as fuzzed-out guitars buzz in the background.
the album’s twelve tracks rarely waver in tempo, a veritable locomotive engine that propels its train into the realm of 1990s nostalgia with a focus squarely on lyrical development. drake takes more of a center stage than on previous efforts, be it commanding her own lead vocal on early stand-out “burden you” or sparring with greaves in traded stanzas on “september,” but her true apex hits on “plum,” a sparse, heartbreaking reflection on the loss of a parent that eventually gets consumed by a wall of guitars.
greaves’ performance across white hot moon isn’t too shabby either; his mumbled musings are more in-tune and focused than before, and ceding a bit more vocal duty to drake this time around allows for the attentive guitar work sprinkled throughout tunes like “orange and red” and “nothing rips through me.”
white hot moon feels very much like a continuation of its predecessor, and that’s perfectly alright. pity sex excel at honing their craft, and astoundingly resonant pop gems like “pin a star” seem to suggest that downtrodden shoegaze is a comfort zone the band won’t need to rely on for much longer. whether or not they will choose to completely shed their dichotomous aesthetic remains to be seen, but it’s clear that white hot moon is an incredibly focused effort that basks in a soothing analog warmth. soak it up.