Heartbeat Overdrive (Chicken Ranch)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Nov. 28, 2014
Power pop might be one of the few sub-genres of rock with a pulse. Moonlight Towers exists on the edges of that brand, taking its cues from American heartland acts like Cheap Trick and Tom Petty. Heartbeat Overdrive, the locals' fourth disc and first since 2011's widely praised Day Is the New Night, finds singer, songwriter, and guitarist James Stevens tackling heavier subject matter than he's approached in the past. Heartbeat races when he's inspired by relationships fracturing, his dad passing away, and the monotony of everyday life. Yet the veteran Austin quartet puts on a brave face with more than enough jangle and bright atmospherics to keep the darkness at bay. Opener "Out of the Grey" and the title track are among Stevens' most melodic and affecting. He teeters on the brink throughout, but in the end there's survival and, better still, thriving.