Album Review: MoRo

“MoRo 2.0 prove to be a lot of fun: supersized choruses, soaring vocals and hooks big enough to hang whales from…”

MoRo  |  Lay Down Your Ghosts EP

When we last caught up with MoRo, it was on a warm autumn evening in the run up to the release of last year’s debut album, Slow River, a record that unexpectedly mixed Springsteen’s soul with Motown’s heart across its retro-leaning 10 tracks.

Well now they are back with a brand new EP, which the group have been talking up as, while not exactly a complete 180 degree change in direction, certainly a quite obvious side-step. So while Slow River, with its vintage brass and classic song structures, modelled itself on Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black and Paulo Nutini’s Sunny Side Up, the Lay Down Your Ghosts EP sees the introduction of MoRo 2.0, an upgrade that sees the group free themselves up and write a collection of songs that you suspect are far more reflective of the band members themselves.

It suits them too. Incredibly well. As the opening title track shimmers into view on a wave of delayed guitar and Steve Hughes’ falsetto croon, you get the sense that MoRo 2.0 could be a whole lot of fun. When, at the 30 second mark, a killer drum groove and bubbling bass pattern join the party it’s confirmed: new MoRo sound good. When the supersized chorus drops just twenty seconds later it is the sound of a band not only underlining the point but physically ramming it down your throat. It sounds like it was written for arenas.

Its ambition is matched throughout, particularly in the echoed ‘woahs’ of the fantastic ‘Hunting For Gold’ in which Hughes is ‘playing poker with the devil’. It’s the most interesting song here, morphing from industrial verses to beefy choruses via a delightful middle eight and some brilliant guitar work. And it’s the guitar of the uptempo rocker ‘Motorcade’ that, musically at least, best links the MoRo of Slow River with their new look, providing some fun flourishes reminiscent of their early single ‘Something I Can Feel’.

Ending on the EP’s most jaw-droppingly beautiful moment showcases Hughes’s stunning vocal range and confirms it to be the groups trump card. ‘Don’t Need Your Love’, a tale of growing apart from the one love – “she’ll be shopping, and I’m drinking alone” – means that MoRo say goodbye on a sombre, spectacular note that will ensure that while the Lay Down Your Ghosts EP starts with your feet tapping, it ends with a lump in your throat.

They say a change is as good as a break, and for a band that boast an incredible work rate – these songs come just 8 months after the release of their debut album, and a third EP is already in the works – it’s a good thing, because there is no sign of them slowing down. When the songs are as good as this, you wouldn’t want them to.

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