Flying Raccoon Suit - Moonflower (Cover Artwork)

Flying Raccoon Suit

Moonflower (2023)

Bad Time Records

Flying Raccoon Suit dredged another choice full length of punk and ska out of the muddy banks of Mississippi with Moonflower.

The album wastes little-to-no time on the tails of 2021's Afterglow in leaning on the band's two greatest assets; "Vidalia" blossoms with a diabolical work, (think Clockwork Orange theme,) from the large and razor-calculated woodwind and brass horn section following a procession of snare, banjo, and tuba into Jessica Jeansonne's old-soul growl. The vocalist has grown hurdles beyond her already top-notch performance in Afterglow, and that is where Flying Raccoon Suit cracks their knuckles in preparation for what they do best.

Drummer (and album engineer) Derek Kerley kicks "Longshot" in with a quick walk and a perfect punk-rock tempo to more syncopated horns, the classic Caddies energy melts into the bubble-gum pop of "Swan Song," lending a sincere career recap and range showcase from Jeansonne, all to dribble into the two minute banger a-la Glow Skulls, "Eat the World."

This is the band's recipe for success... the band has the pipes, both human and instrumental, so any variation of sub-genre, or definition of "ska" is out the window. "Hurricane," "Take This With You," and "Long In The Tooth" may all meld alternative-rock guitar picking and presentation to said strengths, yet they still rattle out classic, Raccoon Suit. "Pinwheel" and "Witch's Streak" reach from Jeansonne's most kick-your-throat delivery in the former, while the latter hoists her more theatrical bars, as well as her standard melodica playing, and well, you guessed it... still Raccoon Suit.

"Axe to Grind," "Run Away," (and "Pinwheel,") knock it out of the park, and are also great moments on the record to admire the precision and taste of Derek Kerley, who drummed the hellll out of the LP. His chameleon-like abilities to genre-bend along with the songs, working seamless fills, stylistic pings, and double-kick-pedal, are proof of a champion behind the kit that knows how to make excellently timed choices. The mix sounds great as well.

"Sunflower" is a huge accomplishment, both for the album and for the band's entire discography, a huge ska masterpiece with a great hook, a Catch-Light Manifesto sing-along, and a gigantic, complicated, and dissonant horn anthem in the intro. The song is spotless. Moonflower cradles closed with the slowest tune of the bunch, "Dyad," allowing Jeansonne and the mighty horn section one final encore.

Flying Raccoon Suit are a very impressive band, and Moonflower is a beautiful collection of songs, very good... album-of-the-year good. Check it out.