Mister Heavenly – Boxing the Moonlight Review

After a wait, the indie "supergroup" lays out a follow-up to their debut.
Polyvinyl Records, 2017
Purchase: Bandcamp / Amazon

5.0 / 10

It’s always interesting when a group of super-creative individuals get together and force each other to compromise. If you want to look at past indie supergroups, take Divine Fits as an example. Why would Britt Daniel (Spoon) and Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade) make a band together? They could easily pursue their creative interests in their own bands or even solo. And the same goes for the Raconteurs or Monsters of Folk or Broken Bells or Wild Flag or Mister Heavenly. Oh hey, that’s who we’re talking about today!

Mister Heavenly is a trio featuring Ryan Kattner/Honus Honus from Man Man, Nick Thorburn from Islands (and a million other things), and Joe Plummer from Cold War Kids and Modest Mouse (formerly, but he was the best drummer they had). And if that’s not “supergroup” enough for you, Michael Cera played bass for them on tour, which is how this particular reviewer first discovered them. Much like Divine Fits, Raconteurs, et al., these dudes made a record together. This is their second one if you’re keeping score at home.

When their first record, Out of Love, came out, it was a surprise. The album launched Mister Heavenly as a name to rival each member’s respective “main” bands. But in the intervening 6 years, music bloggers don’t show as much excitement for the band’s “doom wop” sound anymore. And it doesn’t help that their new record, Boxing the Moonlight is not very good.

Whatever interesting ideas Mister Heavenly had on Out of Love disappear on Boxing the Moonlight. Instead, the band has gone from interesting side project to a Walk-The-Moon wannabe. For God’s sake, most of these songs sound like they’re from a Neon Trees album, and that band intentionally writes songs for toothpaste commercials.

Perhaps the band is exercising their pop demons, trying to stave them away from Man Man or Islands. Some of the melodies can be fun and engaging, but more often they are sticky in the same way that pine tar is; you don’t want that crap on your hands, but there it is. The same goes for “Makin’ Excuses”, a song that wants you, begs you, to love it. However, the sole moment of the album that works without qualification is “Dead Duck”, and it’s tonally the oddball of Boxing the Moonlight. Loud, messy, and full of screams — it’s the only song on the album that sounds like the band is genuinely having some fun or some creative freedom.

Key Tracks:
“Dead Duck”