Clare Bowditch and The Feeding Set
The Moon Looked On
12 Track, LP (2007, EMI)
Related: Clare Bowditch.
On the first song a flustered girl with neat lipstick fantasises about being locked away in a cubicle with her co-worker. On the second a couple flirt and trade secret flaws with one another. The Moon Looked On isn’t designed for miserable singles, and especially not those fools who still think love will save them. If they’re not going home together, Clare Bowditch’s characters are already stuck there, at home, staring at the walls and doubting themselves or mourning the death of their dog. On Bowditch’s third album with her band The Feeding Set, she sings about relationships at almost every stage of the cycle – from lust and childishness to loss and heartbreak and then, in some cases, back to lust again.
The scenarios are masterfully arranged, with an attention to emotional nuance and frank detail that makes some seem entirely voyeuristic – the lyrical equivalent of sneaking into someone’s backyard and peering through the kitchen window. ‘Between The Tea And The Toast’ captures a couple caught up in all the boring shit that starts stealing time as you get a little older: “Of all the days we’ve ever had, it’s these quiet days that leave me satisfied the most/When our holy ghosts have time to dance between the tea and toast."
It’s also that song that reveals the album’s flaws. The first edition of The Moon Looked On comes with a bonus “campfire” disc of Bowditch performing the tracks on her own. When they’re good – as with ‘Between The Tea And The Toast’ – the acoustic versions highlight just how much unnecessary instrumentation has been piled on top of the studio takes. When they’re bad, they leave the album’s weakness naked: The Moon Looked On lacks the same effortless melodies that made Bowditch’s second record What Was Left so wonderful and earned her an ARIA. Fans will still want to grab the double-disc version while it’s available, but the unconverted may be left wondering what all the fuss is about.
by Andrew Ramadge