Azure Ray, Drawing Down the Moon
A sepia-toned scrapbook of Azure Ray's previous oeuvre
Though it arrives a full seven years after Azure Ray declared an "indefinite hiatus," Drawing Down the Moon is, in many ways, an inevitable album. After all, Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink, the wide-eyed Bright Eyes satellites behind Azure Ray, have perfected the art of wallowing in a way that few other artists have: They could hardly leave their once-prolific career without one long, last look back at what they were or might have been.
Appropriately, Drawing Down the Moon feels like a sepia-toned scrapbook of Azure Ray's previous oeuvre. All of their past trappings are here: the meditative swaths of piano and strings, the crystalline vocal harmonies, the Hold On Love-era synth and drum pad dabbling. Taylor and Fink haven't cheered in the seven years since Hold On Love, either, and they rarely stray from themes of lost love, missed opportunity or minor heartache. "Don't Leave My Mind," the album's lead single, mopes around a sparse frame of programmed drum beats and distant keyboard while Fink and Taylor harmonize; three songs later, the understated "On and On Again" finds the duo charting a meditative soft rock route — more Sarah McLachlan than Omaha Sound.
There are a few moments when the girls seem to be reaching for something bigger than the bittersweet sadness of their pre-hiatus days. "Love and Permanence" aspires, counter-intuitively, to the dark electro-pop of Bat for Lashes, and the pristine "Silver Sorrow" nears a place that, if not quite happy, isn't exactly miserable. It's a rare look forward on an album that spends most of its time looking back.