Black Moth Super Rainbow is the kind of band who don’t so much conjure up atmospheres of a place, but of a time. To be specific, the time they conjure up is about 9pm on a summer’s evening, the sun hanging low in the sky, painting the clouds glorious shades of red and blue. And much like how that specific time sits at a nexus – between evening and night – so does the music of Black Moth Super Rainbow. Sure, their psychedelic, experimental pop has a very well-defined sound; but it’s the emotions that their music conjures that are so mixed. Sixth album Panic Blooms is no exception; like the rest of their discography, it sits at the point between melancholy and blissed-out joy, simultaneously celebratory and sad, never anything other than free-spirited and shunning of convention, yet instantly accessible. And like their other albums, Panic Blooms is simultaneously brilliant and frustrating; an album that promises so much, containing some genuinely wonderful moments, yet falling slightly short of greatness.

For the uninitiated, Black Moth Super Rainbow’s music is a synth-heavy mixture of classic pop and electronica, all filtered through psychedelica – if the big names of Warp Records such as Aphex Twin or Boards of Canada ever decided to write a ‘60s pop album using nothing but Moogs and drums, it might sound something like Black Moth Super Rainbow. Kindred spirits to Black Moth Super Rainbow – even though they sound nothing alike, it’s hard not to think of The Flaming Lips – but it is more a case of shared outlook and spirit than anything else. It’s a unique sound and one that’s full of possibilities.

Throughout Panic Blooms, it’s hard not to feel that the band are as excited by these possibilities as ever, even if the record is often more subdued than much of their discography. Though there is no obvious stand-out “hit” track – such as “Sun Lips” from 2007’s Dandelion Gum – their pop sensibilities are on display on songs such as the opening title track and “Baby’s in the Void”. Admittedly, the results are some strange psychedelic, almost ambient takes on pop, but there’s still something resembling a verse/chorus/verse structure buried there. That said, such tracks are in the minority on Panic Blooms though – and this is no bad thing.

Get your fill of Panic Blooms with a full stream or album purchase.

Panic Blooms, as an album, is largely at its best when the band decide to go off the map and chart their own course. The downer that is “Bad Fuckin Times” is, ironically, an album highlight; as is the stargazing “We Might Come Back”, which features a gorgeous series of melodies all backed up by a hip-hop rhythm. The most exciting tracks on the album are those where Black Moth Super Rainbow dispense with typical song structures almost entirely.

In the same breath, however, this tendency towards experimentation and a disregard for convention is also the weak point of the album. As with all Black Moth Super Rainbow records, there are songs on here that feel more like sketches and ideas than finished tracks – the likes of “Harmlessly” and “Aerosol Weather”, for all their wonderfully melancholic vibes and melodies, feel like they would be vastly improved with a little more refinement. Fans of the band probably already expect such moments, but newcomers to the world of Black Moth Super Rainbow may find the varying quality of the tracks a bit of a surprise.

Despite this though, when Panic Blooms is at its best, it’s a superb record, and can stand up there with the best that Black Moth Super Rainbow have done. That their albums still feature some songs that seem half-finished feels, after six releases, more like it’s intentional than an accident; but even so, and despite the wonderful vibes of the album, it’s hard not to be frustrated at times by the inconsistent nature of Panic Blooms.

Panic Blooms Track Listing:

01. Panic Blooms
02. Baby’s in the Void
03. Rip on Through
04. One More Ear
05. Bad Fuckin Times
06. New Breeze
07. Aerosol Weather
08. June July 28
09. Bottomless Face
10. Permanent Hole
11. To the Beat of a Creeper
12. We Might Come Back
13. Harmlessly
14. Backwash
15. Sunset Curses
16. Mr No One

Run Time: 42:41
Release Date: May 4, 2018