Unbunny - Moon Food (Affairs Of The Heart)

This quiet storm of a record is another convincing portrayal of the classic post-hippie alternative dilemma, rejecting the culture that labels Unbunny a freak and a failure...

Released Jun 15th, 2010 via Affairs Of The Heart / By Ben Wood
Unbunny - Moon Food (Affairs Of The Heart) Sometimes it’s shamefully enjoyable to wallow in someone else’s misery. If you ever get that feeling, you could do worse than slip on the latest slice of melodic miserabilism from Unbunny.

Main man Jarid Del Deo’s sound is pitched perfectly between After the Goldrush-era Neil Young (wistful, high-pitched singing, strumalong melodies based around simple guitar and piano lines, the occasional detour into sturdier country rock) and Elliott Smith’s seminal Either/Or album.

It’s pretty, melancholy and pitched at an emotional register around two shades up from suicidal. If these songs have a message it’s something along the lines of “you’ve got to try but we all know it’s hopeless”. In an America built on the myth that everyone can make it if they try hard enough, many will be labelled losers, and how do you cope with that emotionally?

Drawn from hard years of drifting round America looking for that elusive break, Moon Food takes snapshots from a transient world of unrequited love, small towns, low-paid jobs, and loners seeking solace in the bottle. “If you’re sad and you like beer, we’re your lady” says his MySpace page.

Drawn as they are from a fairly narrow sonic and emotional palette, these songs of sugar-coated despair take a while to sink in. After all, while he creates a certain atmosphere, and has a lovely sound (soulful, melancholy and just ragged enough), he hasn’t got the classic songwriting chops of his heroes.

However, after a few listens, certain moments stick out. ‘Young Men Are Easy Prey’ is ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ meets Neil’s cover of ‘Oh Lonesome Me’. Duet ‘Are You Cautious? / Design Flaw’ (“There’s a design flaw in the human heart”) is a country rock classic just aching to transform into a brass-aided epic with a bigger budget. And even the sainted Elliott didn’t come up with anything much more bitter than ‘You Run Like A Girl’ (“Sometime baby when you settle down / with a bullshit husband, in a bullshit town…”)

This quiet storm of a record is another convincing portrayal of the classic post-hippie alternative dilemma: like Kurt Cobain, Elliott Smith etc, Jarid has rejected the culture that labels him a freak and a failure, but the label, and the pain, still sticks. So he drinks to console himself – and that just draws him further into despair…

Sure leads to some good music, though.