Just out of high school, feeling stuck in a wasted gap year in her New Hampshire hometown before heading to college, Emily Moales found herself in serious need of an escape. Looking around at her rural New England surroundings, the multi-instrumentalist began blurring the lush greenery of reality with that of Medieval Britain. “I’m perpetually reading TH White’s The Once and Future King. I’ll pick it back up again every few months, and it will always resonate with what’s going on in my life,” Moales explains. Infusing imagery from the epic tale of King Arthur, Lancelot, and Guinevere into intensely personal songwriting, Moales found that escape in creating the sublime Camelot. First released digitally in 2018 and now getting its first physical issue via Earth Libraries on TK, the record is a sterling statement of the New Hampshirite’s work as Star Moles and her ability to craft timeless yet eternally present bedroom pop gems.
Though she first envisioned Camelot as a way to escape her reality, the record equally provided a way to address it head on. As a prime example, album highlight “Not My Heart” takes a tale of unrequited love on a Casiotone waltz before bursting into a classic AM pop jangle, the imagery of Camelot swirling through the mix like a fluttering banner. Moales’ bronzed vocals sit front and center on the track and album at large, surrounded by a robust instrumental tapestry--though much like the album cover’s blend of Medieval font and shag carpeting, every bit of regal clarity is matched with warmly retro tones.
That clever duality is boosted by the production of Kevin Basko. Moales was drawn to Basko’s Ancient Dinosaur Sounds studio, after being particularly inspired by his work with Foxygen and his solo project, Rubber Band Gun. “Working with Kevin was really surreal--a dream come true,” Moales says. The buoyant indie pop of songs like “Spider Queen” bear out that amiable comfort, allowing Moales to expand and explore, letting lyrics about the titular monarch meld with a story of a troubled interpersonal relationship. A neon synth dips and dives through the track like a pedal steel guitar, an overdriven drumkit keeping things at a strolling pace.“Maybe there’s a use for you hiding away in the flickering candlelight/ I’ll keep a lookout for the killer in black and white,” Moales sighs as the underlying bass chugs away.
Even when the songs start to delve deeper into the world of character, as on the Ariel Pink-esque neo-psychedelia of “On the Loam”, they’re still only a thin layer away from Moales’ heart. Though the track contains verses about being an outlaw on a canyon’s edge, wandering aimlessly through the streets of Tokyo, and stowing away on a rocket to Mars, the song’s palpable pull inward, towards discovering one’s true core, burns brightly.
While she’s spent the last few years recording and releasing handfuls of Star Moles albums digitally, Camelot felt like a big step for Moales, a realization of the project’s potential--making it especially fitting to be her first physical release. And while Basko contributes the occasional rhythmic accompaniment, Camelot is an impressive show of not only the range of Moales’ songwriting, but her composing and musicianship as well. The piano stomp of “Bloodhounds (Bad News Babe)” is immaculately plonky, understated high harmonies curling like wisps of fog at the base of the track. Moales’ shimmering vibrato in the midst of the sweetly strummy “Agravaine” is a charming surprise, equaled by the angsty growl that opens “Mad Cow Disease”. The twinkling “Stone Man” finds Moales’ looking to a mythic creature of meditative stillness for guidance, her voice swaying as sweetly as anywhere in the Star Moles catalog.
That wide vocal range comes inspired by Moales’ infatuation with Kate Bush, herself a witty songwriter with a flair for the romanticism of the English countryside. Though Bush dug into the slightly more modern Wuthering Heights, Moales’ Camelot reaches for the same boundaries of the voice’s capabilities. “I admire the way she uses her full vocal range and isn't afraid to soar really high, go really low, to choose strange melodies,” Moales says. “For a long time I didn't listen to a lot of female musicians and was afraid to use my vocal range. But on Camelot I was finally able to really capture that scope and the magic and wonder of taking big steps in life.”
“This song has a special psychedelic and dreamy vibe”
“Ultimately, Star Mole’s “The Old Man’s House,” is the perfect anthem— it’s a lighthearted, danceable standout that can be enjoyed by 60s rock and modern alt fans alike. But more than anything, like all anthems should be, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.”
"The catchy new glam rock track comes packed with shimmering keys, a driven drum beat, and gritty vocals"
"Glide is premiering the video for the contagiously hummable “Bloodhounds.” Moles drops a big-hearted DIY mix that renders the fantastical imagery of glam with a crushing electro-pop wave. The stunner video with its self-professed extreme flashing and color changes, mixed atop cleverly dialed in shadow figures, is simply the bomb."
"Intensely personal songwriting, Moales found that escape in creating the sublime Camelot. The album displays Star Moles’ ability to craft timeless yet eternally present bedroom pop." "That wide vocal range comes inspired by Moales’ infatuation with Kate Bush, herself a witty songwriter with a flair for the romanticism of the English countryside. Though Bush dug into the slightly more modern Wuthering Heights, Moales’ ‘Camelot’ reaches for the same boundaries of the voice’s capabilities."
"piano-driven, retro girl group inspired song “Bloodhounds.” "The song is built around a cascading piano figure that while sonically upbeat, lyrically carries more ominous tones."
With Guitars : "The buoyant indie pop of songs like “Spider Queen” bear that out, letting lyrics about the titular monarch meld with a story of a troubled interpersonal relationship." "Camelot is an impressive show of not only the range of Moales’ songwriting, but her composing and musicianship as well. The piano stomp of “Bloodhounds (Bad News Babe)” is immaculately plonky, understated high harmonies curling like wisps of fog at the base of the track."
"Camelot splices Medieval period romanticism and the lore surrounding King Arthur’s Court with Moales’ mythic and candlelit indie pop captured through the indubitable analog recording rigs of Kevin Basko."