Lunar Moth’s new video is an infectious jolt of summer energy

“Cotton Candy” is more than empty calories.
Stills from Lunar Moth’s “Cotton Candy” video appear to the left and the right. In the middle the artwork for the single repeats.

“Cotton Candy” is more than empty calories.

This summer’s been a hard one for many Madisonians. Record heat, abysmal stretches of air quality, and a number of dispiriting political developments have occasionally made it hard to muster much positivity. Lunar Moth’s new video for their latest single, “Cotton Candy,” is a blissful reminder that we can always find joy through our friends and chosen family.

Lunar Moth’s self-titled debut EP was released in August 2019 and featured the trio digging their heels into the middle distance between brooding post-punk and sunny surf-pop. Guitarist Amber Fasula’s vocals, at once light and haunting, made that middle distance a surprisingly natural fit. Mac Felckowski’s furious drumming and Gage Brunes’ thick, distorted bass tone acted as perfect complements on Lunar Moth, with both musicians adding well-placed backing vocals. Over the band’s ensuing releases, they refined their sound and zeroed in on a peculiar strain of indie rock that’s not heard very often (Boston-based act Slothrust may be Lunar Moth’s nearest stylistic contemporary).

At the start of June, Lunar Moth released a gem of a single in “Cotton Candy.” While the distortion and low-end remained tastefully aggressive, “Cotton Candy” easily stands out as the band’s biggest and brightest-sounding track to date. (I briefly mistook it for an unreleased La Sera song on first listen.) Bathed in warm, beach-ready tones, and set at a brisk tempo, “Cotton Candy” is, simply put, one of the best surf-pop songs I’ve heard in years. Recorded, mixed, and mastered beautifully by Brunes, the song’s a colorful testament to the band’s DIY approach. Fasula’s editing and the band’s collective direction and production of the video reaffirms their commitment to a DIY ethos. And all of it—from the audio production to the video’s execution—is achieved at an impressively high level.

Mere seconds into the video, “Cotton Candy” expertly evokes a carefree summer aesthetic. A dog jumps into (and out of) a kiddie pool, while “An endless pool of love,” the song’s opening lyrics, are visible on the water’s surface. The seconds-long sequence effectively kicks off an irreverent, inventive run of lyric placement. A crafted cotton candy cone features the ensuing lyrics—”cotton candy painted on my tongue”—painted on the cone itself. Nearly every implementation and presentation of the song’s lyrics comes by way of grin-inducing practical effects or tongue-in-cheek props. At every turn, the band’s video for “Cotton Candy” manages to be both simplistic and exceedingly clever, with the members of Lunar Moth beaming and dancing throughout its three-minute runtime.

A number of visual gags populate the “Cotton Candy” video, including a memorable runner with the three members appearing in shirts that say “LOU,” “GNAR,” and “MOTH,” respectively. A karaoke-style visual projection of the lyrics also features to some degree of prominence. Fasula, Brunes, and Felckowski elevate the video’s sense of playfulness through genuine reaction; the unmistakable camaraderie on display transcends the video’s fun-loving premise. While the cleverness takes center stage, the bandmates’ relationship to, and affection for, each other is the heart of this video. Those interactions capture the type of warmth that summer can bring out, independent of heat. “Cotton Candy” is more than the sum of its parts, and there’s a good deal of hearty substance underneath its sugary veneer. 

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