Widescreen, tightly-produced songs that convey the subtleties of existential crises
Jessie Atkinson
14:21 1st July 2020

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Lush and widescreen, Modern Dread is the third full-length album from singer-songwriter Denai Moore. As the title suggests, it’s a project that confronts existential crises. And though Moore conveys anxiety across electronica, pop, soul and more genres in this 45-minute tour de force, it isn’t only dread that emerges, but boredom, anxiety, insecurity, defiance too...all of this and more comes across the soundwaves in concise, moving packages tightly wrapped in Modern Dread's luscious production.
 
With lead single ‘To The Brink’, Moore introduced the space she’s in now: placed at the centre of the album, we see this artist at her most afraid. Fears peal out of her as she runs to the edge of the world on a path paved by vibrating synths. It’s a brink she reaches and retreats from, reaches and retreats from again and again across Modern Dread.
 
On ‘Fake Sorry’, she gains control to rail against insincerity before losing it again on the poetic, tentative ‘Grapefruit’. But then ‘Cascades’ hits - the guitar-dappled pop hit of the LP - and Moore proves that fear and fortitude often come hand in hand. 
 
There’s no pretence in the span of Modern Dread. Moore’s voice is a consistent harbinger of the dread she genuinely feels, and as an artist with the rare gift of insight, more often than not, she speaks for all of us. 
 
‘Honour’ is particularly effective in conveying the underlying relentlessness of anxiety in modern living: those dissonant keys plink loosely; awkwardly; unrelentingly. It’s there in the almost ubiquitous icy percussion, booming synth (particularly all-encompassing on the vulnerable ‘Offer Me’) and the cautious organ of opener ‘Too Close’. 
 
As she proves on 'Cascades' though, the fear doesn't hold her back from making great playlist fodder: add the woozy strings of 'Turn Off The Radio' and the groove-laden 'Motherless Child' to your summer mixtape ASAP. 
 
Closing out on the watery ‘Wishing You Better’, Moore evokes the sensation of rising out of the shallows and into a better space as running water gives way to otherworldly synths. For a moment, Moore transcends into the confident, futuristic figure of the album art. But of course, anxiety cannot fade away forever. Modern Dread spills out into the future with its closing notes, and the journey to and from the brink continues.

Modern Dread is released on 3 July 2020 via Because Music.

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