On Moon 2 Ava Luna’s de facto band leader Carlos Hernandez steps back, leaving space for the rest of the band members to step up and step into roles they hadn’t occupied on previous albums. Felicia Douglass (now a touring member of Dirty Projectors) worked with percussion and sampler, Julian Fader experimented with synths, nearly every band member ran the computer during recording sessions, and Becca Kauffman (aka performance artist Jennifer Vanilla) composed her first song for the group “On Its Side the Fallen Fire,” a deeply layered orchestral piece of Kate Bush grandeur meets Julia Holter reverie.
Compared with previous Ava Luna albums, Moon 2 has fewer sharp turns into dissonance, fewer celebratory guitar parts, none of Hernandez’s signature screams. Nevertheless, the infectious buoyancy of “Deli Run” and “Walking With an Enemy,” are warm and bright, and songs like “Centerline” and “Phoebe (Set it Off)” venture confidently into pop territory. The title track, painting the elation and tumult of a crush, is set against a swaggering reggae bassline and warbling Kraftwerk synths. “It’s like, every sci-fi movie has a nightclub,” says Kauffman. “These are the songs in that nightclub.”