Mo Troper - Natural Beauty LP
Tender Loving Empire
Mo Troper’s third solo record, Natural Beauty, was recorded in the uneasy yet fertile time after the singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist returned to his hometown of Portland from two brief, failed experiments of living elsewhere: first in Los Angeles and then in New York. Instead of the “snot-nosed pwnage” of his earlier music (so said Pitchfork in their 6.0 review of his debut solo album), this new record presents the salient details of Troper’s life without the juvenile editorializing that has, at times, kept listeners at arm’s length. Album highlight “Jas From Australia” features a melody as buoyant and sweet as anything The Kinks ever wrote, with a dash of Internet-age urgency mixed in. The song’s straightforward storytelling—Jas was Troper’s first love, they met online when they were teenagers, and never met in person—sets the listener up for this gut-punch two-thirds of the way through the song: “I said I was moving to Melbourne but I lied and now you know.” It’s easy to take music this catchy for granted, and confuse beauty with superficiality, but these songs are remarkably durable.