Under Review

Under Review: Thirteen Moons, did you die

Todd McCluskie

Self confessed psych-pop shoegazers and Vancouver indie band, did you die, initially piqued my interest simply through their name. Apparently, the moniker stems from a tongue in cheek quip — the group’s main songwriter, Richie Felix Alexander, was late meeting a friend and she texted him  “did you die?” The name stuck, and having it presented in lower case is a rather nice touch. After an initial listen, my first thought was: damn right,the VanCity independent music scene is thriving and showing no signs of slowing down.

Perusing the album credits, did you die is clearly the brainchild of Richie Felix Alexander. He is prominently listed as producer & photographer, and is in charge of mixing, mastering, writing, along with vocals and guitar. He has disclosed he “wanted to capture the exact sounds that were looping in his head without having to compromise with any producer or engineer.” Sometimes this can be a slippery slope, as an artist runs the risk of getting too close to the project. Also in the band are Madison Penland (synth and vocals), Jula Lafit (bass and vocals)  and Tom Rapanakis (drums). Thirteen Moons was laid down at Restless Sound in Vancouver from November 2020 to May 2021 by, you guessed it, Richie Felix Alexander. The record was released on Blew//Rose January 1, 2022.

We ease into this collection of “dreamy indie music”with the first of the eight tracks “Hallie,” a poppy little number with a tender, angelic sound. Soft and soothing with an echoey plodding snare drum that kinda sounds like it was recorded remotely — which in fact it most certainly was. The reverb of the guitar twang is a nice touch. As we blend into the floating sounds of “Silver Lemon,” Madison Penland’s sweet vocals are (to me) a dead ringer for Suzanne Vega circa 1987. Next we drift and open up ever so slightly with the heaviness of lead single “Weightless”, a catchy track that offers a little more dynamic range —  “Wiping the sweat from my eyes / Salt water covers the sky.”  “Shine so Real”  has a lead guitar hook that is reminiscent of The Cure’s Disintegration era guitarist, Porl Thompson. As I work through the album I hit the remaining four tunes, the thirst quenching “Watermelon Lollipop,”  the upbeat and choppy “N.P.D,”  “Wisp” stays the course, and final cut “It’s the Way You” is a musically chaotic offering with a slight tempo change sliced in. Lyrically there seems to be some interesting themes unfolding throughout this album.

For me Thirteen Moons (did you die’s third full length LP) has somewhat of a washed out mix, indeed engaging, however, separation and space could and likely would enhance the overall production quality. That being said, there’s a dab of familiarity with Thirteen Moons a textured recording that’s deliciously enticing.

did you die are easily not your Saturday night, but more likely that distant soft and sun drenched Sunday afternoon, as you relax in the warmth and reflect on the debauchery that was the evening before. Todd McCluskie