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Mister Heavenly dabbled in love and affection on their first record, 2011's Out of Love. This time, however, Ryan Kattner, Nicholas Thorburn and Joe Plummer are in a scrappy mood as they embrace a tougher sound on the band's new album, Boxing the Moonlight. "It seemed like it was a good idea to pivot from the subject matter of the first record," Thorburn says. "That was maybe a more emotional thing, and I think this record is much more physical."
The physicality is evident right from the start, in the hammering piano and terse rhythm that fuel opener "Beat Down," or in the buzzing chaos on "Dead Duck," a psych-heavy freakout that evokes the Monks. The experimental '60s garage-rockers aren't the only musical reference point on Boxing the Moonlight. Seventies Krautrock band Faust was a big influence while the songs were being written, as was the sound of hip-hop production in the late '80s and early '90s, which informed the deep groove of "Hammer Drop" and the spacious guitar sound on "Magic Is Gone." Meanwhile, "Crazy Love, Vol. III," is a smooth jam with an ulterior motive.
If it sounds eclectic, that's no coincidence, though Mister Heavenly's knack for catchy hooks ensures that it all hangs together with remarkable cohesion. It all adds up to make Boxing the Moonlight another successful pursuit toward one of the band's long-term goals. "We're always trying to write the perfect little nugget," Kattner says, that will endure even into the dystopian future that looks more and more likely every day. Or, as he puts it, "When you find that melted jukebox, and that Mister Heavenly record is spinning, you're going to try your damndest to find a coin to put in it."