The Babies - Moonlight Mile [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Babies

Moonlight Mile [7-inch] (2012)


After releasing their debut LP, the Babies released not one, but two collections of songs that were recorded before their LP. While the first LP was great, the abundance of archive material suggested that perhaps the band had lost its sense of direction. Well, Moonlight Mile* puts that malformed notion to rest.

Right off the bat "Moonlight Mile" shows the band evolving. While the first LP was surrounded by a warm melancholy, "Moonlight Mile" is energetic, cold and straight-up angry. Co-vocalist Kevin Morby demands "You better watch your mouth / And who you're talking about / And sometimes is ours / Out on the moonlight mile" over a jagged, half punk/half garage rock riff while co-vocalist Cassie Ramone coos over top, suggesting both a eulogy and heavenly choir. Damn! The song grows in intensity until one of the guitars shrieks like an air raid siren when the song finally collapses, without Morby giving apology, or even explanation, for his ire.

"Places," the flip side, is something of a more traditional Babies tune. Built around reverbed guitar and a country-honk riff, the song is more of a nostalgic reflection than the biting attack of the A-side. Again, the group shows off their ability to affix emotion to sound as opposed to merely lyrics. As Morby calls out "Let them set you free!" it's entirely unclear to whom he is referring, but it seems almost definite that he's calling to someone to release self imposed shackles.

The first Babies LP was nuanced and tight, but it was so well formed that it suggested that the group had few places left to explore within that framework. Yet, "Moonlight Mile" shows that the band has begun to explore outside warmer territory and have entered a path of darkness, albeit one slightly illuminated by a ominous guide.

*I'll admit that 10 percent of me was hoping this would be a Rolling Stones cover. There's always hope...