Intimately tucked between The Moth & The Flame’s trembling synthesizers and compellingly bravado vocals rests a component that syndicates the band’s evolution together at its core: steadiness. With precise details and intentional steps, The Moth & The Flame walks a line between mass appeal and artistic integrity. Their new album, Young & Unafraid, mingles the spontaneous and relaxed approach the band previously took when recording with a deliberate and gauged plan to cross new barriers. The Moth & The Flame impeccably balances the coziness of knowing where they’ve come from with the aspirations of where they want to be. Leaving behind their Provo, Utah home, the band moved to Los Angeles and let their emotions marinade in the mix of Young & Unafraid, an album that is a culmination of the different times in their lives throughout the recording process.
With an explosion of colorful expression, Young & Unafraid emphasizes The Moth & The Flame’s collective scope of influences. The invigorating and empowered dynamics of tracks like “Empire & The Sun” and “Live Where I Breathe” flawlessly seize the bands’ infectious and spirited ability to create ambiance. Meanwhile, the album’s title track, “Young & Unafraid” takes on a murkier, anguished 90’s grunge feel, a reflection of Brandon Robbins’ Washington State roots. Protesting the narrative, the song is adherent to a consciousness of millennial angst. “We’re trying to give people a sense of empowerment,” Robbins explains enthusiastically. “Growing up, all of the songs I loved had a meaning. In that manner, we’re writing about things that we see and feel…things that need to be changed.” Ambitiously, the band hopes their hunger for variation will stir onlookers to pushback when they encounter an obstruction.
Secured by a vigilant assortment of producers, the album thrives in its diversity. For the album’s recording, the band chose to work with a variety of producers. The Moth & The Flame returned to a long-standing relationship, recording with Nate Pyfer, who also oversaw their debut album. A confident, new generation producer, Pyfer opened the floodgates, allowing the band to thrive without limitations. Producer Peter Katis (Sigur Ros, Fanfarlo, Frightened Rabbit, Swell Season), who was on the band’s bucketlist to work with, brought an airy and organic warm-heartedness to the record. Mastermind instrumentalist Rob Moose, known for his work with Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens and Arcade Fire, enhanced Katis’ rich production, adding orchestration and depth. Tony Hoffer furthered the band; applying brighter and more accessible touches found on the album’s tracks, similar to those had supplied bands like M83, Beck and Stars.
This collection of distinctively unique production signatures has allowed The Moth & The Flame to construct a vast and exceptionally innovative album, while simultaneously expanding the borders of what they’re known for and remaining steadfast in the qualities that define them. “We were a little worried about how cohesive the sound could be while working with so many different producers,” Robbins admits. “It is a little scary honestly, creating a sound that might end up nothing like something you’ve previously created. But it ended up meshing in a really beautiful way that wasn’t jarring.”
While their debut self-titled record was deliberately built as an “artsy album”, Young & Unafraid was conceived to influence an extensive audience and cultivate The Moth & The Flame’s signature sound. “It is a more accessible version of us,” admits Robbins, “and honestly a more realized version of the band. We were very young and new when we started and the experiences we gained have helped us create a more zoomed in version of The Moth & The Flame.”
The Moth & the Flame is Brandon Robbins (vocals, guitar), Mark Garbett (keyboards/vocals), and Andrew Tolman (drums)
Photographer: Marcello Ambriz
Musicians: Brandon Robbins (Vocals/Guitar) Mark Garbett (Keys) Andrew Tolman (Drums)
Venue: Velour Provo, UT