Upon first witnessing the Moore Brothers onstage, one may ask, "Are they really brothers?" They look nothing alike and never seem to argue. Much as Jack and Meg White inspire constant confusion among their fans -- "Are they ex-spouses? Brother and sister? Wha?" -- there is always a bit of a questioning buzz about the Moore Brothers. Although that hooha with the White Stripes seems to have died down, now that Jack has married and procreated with a supermodel, and Marc Jacobs has somehow inexplicably managed to make Meg look ugly and uncool in his recent ad campaign. Anyway, the first time I saw the Moore Brothers perform, I couldn't help but chuckle at their resemblance to Tenacious D! They are standing there with one acoustic guitar, Thom Moore sort of preppy and sandy-haired, and Greg Moore a bit short and doughy with black hair falling in his face. Luckily, their limited comedic histrionics and phenomenally pure and precious voices saved them that night, and made me a permanent fan. (As far as I know, they really are brothers. And Jack and Meg used to be married.)
Their last album, Now is the Time for Love, is truly a modern classic in my little pop universe. I bought it after that show, and have memorized the entire thing. Just two voices and an acoustic guitar. Not since the Hollies, the Bee Gees or the Posies have such crystalline harmonies and delightful pop melodies so enchanted me. Suffice it to say I was pretty excited for Murdered by the Moore Brothers to come out, and it does not disappoint.
This is a local act that is just destined for bigger things, although the fact that they remain so tiny and organic in their attitude and their style is certainly endearing. On this new album, they expand their sound just slightly, adding some keyboards, drums, and other atmospherics to dress up the songs, but really it's about their voices. The two of them interweave around each other in unique and whimsical ways, managing to be simultaneously beautiful and unpredictable.
Their roots are pure '60s pop, yet the Moore Brothers add a surreal, angular sensibility to the genre that reeks of bookish intelligence and reaches always further for a more challenging lyric or melody. They are like a post-modern Simon and Garfunkel. Greg writes all the odd-numbered songs, Thom all the even-numbered songs -- extremely democratic, especially for siblings. Every song sung together naturally, joyfully, intricately.
If you are a bit weary of all the "indie-lite" acoustic acts out there like Iron and Wine, whose whispered strumming and singing starts to feel a bit contrived, the Moore Brothers offer a much more complicated and satisfying listen. At times shimmering, sweet, romantic, angry and witty, many of the songs on Murdered by the Moore Brothers are death-obsessed, which makes perfect sense given the title. But the album is far from somber or morbid. Instead, the Moore Brothers go to the light and beg to be buried "under the sweet kissing teens." Ah, brotherly love never sounded so good.