Niklolitsa Boutieros doesn’t so much sing words as wield them, and Under The Moon doesn’t so much create a mood as tear one apart. No matter how bleak the song, Boutieros invariably performs from a position of pure power. None of the despair or destruction is detached—it’s all hers. Her heavy and dark voice curls out and under itself, readily jumping up into the frenzy of the music.
The lower reaches of her vocal range are the most potent, evident especially in “Hold Me In Love” and “Look Pretty.” Both tracks center upon a repeated command, simple yet arresting, complemented by the raw instrumentation. It is not a question of musical acrobatics, but of incredible tone, comprehensive shadowiness sustained without fail.
This constant confrontation makes it, at times, difficult to take in. It’s hard to truly differentiate between tracks in the middle (“Good Girl,” “Right Tonight,” and “So What”), not because they don’t have definitive starting and stopping points, but because the entire progression of the album seems to be back and forth rather than forward. The energy isn’t dropped for a minute, its weight is nearly tangible.
The most impressive track is, however, more restrained. “Moon In Her Eyes” closes the album with a slow simmer, a welcome break from the flash fires before. The more relaxed delivery makes Boutieros’ molded voice even more captivating as she tackles intense dynamic changes and even howls like a wolf (an element that any self-respecting moon song should include). After the unrelentingly ferocious release of the songs before it, “Moon In Her Eyes” is the only one that sounds like an opportunity to build something up again.
Under The Moon is a pointedly galling album, expressing fury without any sense of unease. That unabashedly open aggression is its greatest strength. It is indeed abrasive, but skillfully and not needlessly so.
In A Word: Jarring