“Mountains Beaches Cites” takes all the right pop cues

If there ever was full proof music advice to save a fledgling young band on the verge of crashing and burning, it would “be more like U2”. Yes, the criticism of U2 is well documented, and usually boil down to, “Bono sucks! U2 blows! They sold out! etc.”

If put on the spot and forced to think it over, most indie pop fans would have to gurgling admit that no album has had as much as an influence on their precious music today, then U2’s, Achtung Baby.

On it, U2 knowingly laid out the perfect formal that blended blues-lite guitars, arena rock production, catchy hooks, and sonic ambiance. The bread and butter of even the most novice of bands who have since latched onto this formal bonfide hit.

Whether they will admit to the U2 homage or not, Moon Taxi has done it justice in spades. Starting out as a five piece alternative-folk band form Nashville, with all the charm of a rent-a-Dave Matthews band, and then following up an awful debut with a live album, Moon Taxi took the first step by successfully adopting the “be more like U2”, strategy on their real sophomore album Caberte.

Eschewing the pointless, tuneless jam sessions for tighter song writing, better production, and hooks. Mountains Beaches Cites, continuities the trend they started, featuring a little more ambition.

The ear-pleasing pop hooks they debuted on Cabrate are back in full force, paired with that same arena rock ambient flairs, and echoed drum beats. The production is the real stand out here, each song is packed to the gills with a wall of pleasings synths, icy beats and jangly guitars.

However, none of the songs ever feel too crowded. The cacophonies are all built on simple, beautiful melodies. From the chant heavy choruses of “Morocco”, to the soothing, syntwave tones of “Beaches”, the sounds on the album go from poppy, to pleasant, to dreamy, hitting everything else in between.