Nick Drake - Pink Moon
Jul 14, 2020
92
(THE BUCKET LIST PART 5IVE)

'So look see the days
The endless colored ways
And go play the game that you learned
From the morning' - Nick Drake, 'From The Morning'

Recently, I've been hit hard with a giant case of writers block. Yes, that beast. We all know that infernal struggle. Everytime I go to sit down and write something for this site, or as an extension for Letterboxd or for my own art or for ANYTHING in general, i'm hit in the face with a baseball bat of an document filled to the brim with emptiness. It happens to the best of us, with us reasoning with the writers block as if we were dealing with a hostage.
Our excuses range from 'feeling as if our work isn't good enough, so why try?', to 'feeling that we've reached the peak of what we can do as writers so we don't bother', or more prominently in my case: 'feeling as if we are so swamped with what we could be doing that we don't focus on what you should be doing'.
It's a weird predicament to be in, and I don't really know exactly how to get out of it, but as a result of this common issue, I have the overwhelming urge that I have been really half assing it as of late in terms of writing. Hell, writing this review was difficult because I feel as if all the words I've said over the years are just being reformatted to say the same things I said about some other album.

To add to the list of problems bringing me down, something that has been stabbing me in the back making me as pensive as ever is death. After the tragic death of Groggs from Injury Reserve, I've honestly been obsessed with the concept of life ending a lot. Not in an unhealthy or self destructive way like I have done in the past, more of 'Jesus Christ, this is really going to happen if I like it or not, huh?' kind of way.
It's something that has kind of put a stump in my heels as I walk up the mountain of life, with myself not leaving my house at all during the past couple of weeks. I should really be doing something instead of watching 'Eric Andre' at 3am (although that has been very funny), especially since my relationship with the idea of death has all been too familiar, so doing nothing could lead down potentially similar avenues.
Yet, I remain, and while I am deeply afraid of dying, deaths of others rarely shake anything inside me, and more so put a rock deep in my gut. And that rock has been sitting there for a solid month now.

"So, i've got writers block and i'm scared of death. Big whoop, do you want a cookie?", I hear some of you more nihilistic readers groan. "What's with this Pink Moon bullshit that nearly EVERYONE is calling a masterpiece? Is it?!". And I respond thus: "Well Jesus, fucking hold on there. You may have seen the rating, sure, but I feel like some background is more important then ever for this review, so stay with me on this one!".

At first, I paid no mind to this record. After a skim listen from the recommendation of a certain Mr. @TreyLikesBands (aparently it's his favorite record, who would have thought?), I thought this album was pretty good, but nothing mind blowing. Nice acoustic music, but i'm not to interested in 'soft' music, but it was definitely pleasant enough that I thought the album held its own for 28 minutes. At first, I thought it was OK.

At first.

As some of you may know, for years and years i've written off Folk, Singer Songwriter and Acoustic music due to the fact that, to me, it was very boring and almost a waste of my time. Hell, it's taken me so LONG (I mean...unless you count Núria Graham, Pheobe Bridges and Weyes Blood) to find a record from a folk artist that is unapologetically SOFT and MELLOW and LOWKEY that I love to the point where I want to listen to it again and again, and that's because to me, it never felt like that kind of music had soul to it.
Softer music to me would plod along and bore me to tears in the process, and frankly that's not why I listen to music.
Maybe that's why I love experimental/noisey/heavy music so much, because it brings me to life in ways that are interesting and creative. It reminds me that i'm alive, but softer music tends to do the opposite. It reminds me i'm wasting time, most of the time at lest.

So, to have this random acoustic album worm its way into my heart? It felt like a betrayal of my listening habit in some strange way. But then, no matter how hard I tried to look away, I couldn't stop thinking about Pink Moon. Every album I've tried to listen to lays down pavement that leads its way to this weird looking cover (seriously, what does this cover even mean in relation to the rest of the album?). Every melody I hear makes me think of Nick Drakes croon, every beat leading its way to his guitars. And every word I write feeling like it's all building up to me saying 'I am the parasite of this town'. Why? Why this innocent folk album from 1972? What does this do that others don't?

What made THIS album do so good that it made me love it? Well...lets talk about it.

First, the actual sound of it. The production and mixing are fucking AMAZING. According to the lord almighty Wikipedia, apparently there were two people the room making this album. Nick Drake and the producer, John Wood. Nick Drake recorded the album (with material he wrote before hand) in only two night sessions, with just his voice and acoustic guitar aiding him.

And while that emotion of emptiness is still very much present, not for a second does this album feel cold, alone, sad, or afraid. This album is the warmest, most fuzzy album i've ever heard, basically acting as a blanket with hot coco and your favorite movie to boot, suffocating you with good vibes and positive energy until you fall asleep with a smile on your face. Which is odd for me to say, because this album sounds are literally just one guy, a guitar and one piano line at the very start of the album.
Yet, it sounds like it belongs in the woods, in cabin, with a warm hug from a friend. With only two elements, it manages to sound amazing, and by god I am immediately captivated whenever I hear this thing. It's so weird that an album with so little can sound so warm.

The lyrics aren't HUGELY emotional, but cast this sense of melancholy and somberness over the album that is unavoidable. Nick Drake's vocals seem more like a hum of noise then a hit of notes, with songs like 'Place to Be', 'Parasite' and 'Things Behind the Sun' sound so earnestly sad, even though the songs themselves are not huge emotional rollercoasters that shake your tear ducts. Lines like 'And I was strong, strong in the sun, I thought I'd see when day was done, Now I'm weaker than the palest blue, Oh so weak in this need for you' don't sound like uber emotional lines on paper, but god when Nick Drake drips those words out of his mouth? It sounds like he's almost crying reading these lines, yet they protrude like honey into the microphone.

The songs themselves, however, never wallow in their own self pity. Tracks like 'Paraiste', 'From the Morning' and 'Which Will' sound so full of life and spunk, even with the low-key and melancholic tone. It's warm, but never feels too full or overbearing, like a warm campfire you watch on the beach from a distance that refuses to die out, and your just watching it burn very slowly. And that's the beauty of this album: It seems like these vocals or guitars could be recorded now, as they seem so rich and filled with small, little details in them that makes for exciting repeated listens.
Each song is always sharp and on point, from the chord placements to when Nick will sing, it always seems like Nick is very much in the room showing you a bunch of songs he wrote rather then a experience of a production your watching from afar.

But because it feels so intimate, it never feels boring or stale, because while it does seem slightly redundant to use only two musical elements in the recording of these tracks, by god does he use those two elements to the best ability. (At lest most of the time at lest, still don't know why 'Horn' isn't just an intro to 'Things Behind the Sun' but Go Off I Suppose.)

Every time I listen to it, I become more buried in its own little quaint burrow. It fuels my mental space with this delicate and blissful stroke of the hand, like a rustle of hair, that tells me 'Hey, it's OK. Your OK. Everything is fine, and so are you.' that I think I needed to hear. This album basically is my hug in audible form, and honestly the more I traverse life and the more I encounter things like depression, anxiety and hatred, a sprinkling of seeds of good and kindness goes a long way, and this album reminded me of that in the best way possible.

According to Trey, Nick Drake apparently recorded it all in one take staring at a brick wall, but once it was released, Nick Drake wouldn't promote the album, he quickly retired from writing and recording music after making Pink Moon, he didn't talk to anyone except his mother after making Pink Moon, he had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized after making Pink Moon, and then sadly, ended his own life after making Pink Moon. Yes, sadly this is the last Nick Drake album, after he overdosed on an antidepressant called amitriptyline. Nick Drake basically released this album onto the world, and was never seen again.

So, with that inner torment in this album, why is it that this album has one of the biggest beating hearts I've ever heard? And why is it that I never feel like it's going to die on me? Yes, it's true that my writers block hasn't really reached it's hump yet, nor has my fear/fascination with death, nor my depression, or my anxiety, or any problem in fact. What i'm discovering about life is that those nasty things in life that seems the overbearing cloud of darkness that lingers around you really cant get rid of, but you come across people/pieces of art/moments/feelings that help you through it. Those positives, that while they feel fleeting, they still stick around like an unpeelable sticker stuck to my mind. And this album is another one that is stuck to my brain. I don't know what to do when those moments dissipate, but what this album helped me realize is that I am going to continue doing what I want because...

Well, because...

...

...Well fuck, it's really all we can do if we wanna see that Pink Moon rise.

Favorite Jams: Parasite, Things Behind the Sun, Place to Be

Lest Favorite: Horn

Side note, there is an amazing article written by fellow AOTY writer @Jamobo that covers Nick's music better then I ever could, linked right here that I highly reccomend: https://www.recordroundtable.com/featured-articles/nick-drake-the-black-dog

Take care of yourselves during this shitty year, OK?
2 Comments
Jul 14, 2020
Fantastic review! It's hard to get across what makes this record so amazing, but you did perfectly. Also thanks for the shout out at the end, was not expecting to see that :)
Jul 14, 2020
YES!!!!
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