I should start this review by letting you know that Moderat’s first album, Moderat, is one of my favourite albums ever, so I had very high expectations of their follow-up, II. So much so, I decided to buy the deluxe vinyl + t-shirt combo the week of release. Unfortunately the version I received was damaged, as was its replacement, as was the replacement for the replacement. In the end the online record shop I bought it from refused to send me any more copies and gave me a refund instead. I eventually found a working digital copy though and have managed to listen to the album all the way through without it getting stuck or skipping parts.
Overall the album feels more gentle and uplifting than their previous album, perhaps pointing to a greater influence of Apparat. It’s notable that he provides all the vocals and there are no guest performances on this album. The songs are generally slower, particularly on the songs with vocals, last a little longer and the beat is less prevalent; there’s nothing really as heavy as No.22 or as dark as Slow Match. Instead the tension and drama is left almost entirely to a few instrumental tracks, such as the start of Clouded and the sometimes-I-like-it, sometimes-I-don’t Ilona.
I don’t want to be too critical of the album, because the songs are still great and ten-minute epic Milk is probably the best song Moderat have made. It’s train-track-like beat steadily building into a euphoric climax. Bad Kingdom is a fantastic main single, with it’s leading dubstep bassline, catchy chorus and whooping elephant. Therapy and inspiring closer This Time are also well worth a mention.
However there is something II is missing from being as wonderful a record as Moderat. Perhaps it’s that it’s not as easy to dance to, or that the interludes feel unnecessary, or that the track order seems a little off near the start of the album. It also feels a hit single short, a void perhaps filled by the bonus song, Last Time, included on the deluxe CD edition but annoyingly not the deluxe vinyl I have three copies of!