Following their career defining albums, Earth And Sun And Moon had a lot to live up to. At this stage of their career, Midnight Oil not only had the punk rock pub fan from their early days, but they also had the newer and commercially valuable mainstream rock audience. Earth And Sun And Moon interestingly presents a shift in style for the band and it is fair to say that both fan bases would have approached this album with scepticism. While the themes remained controversial, the musicality would shift towards the pop rock genre and, subsequently, the album sounds different to everything that came before it.
This type of shift is far from exclusive to Midnight Oil. Another iconic Australian band, Icehouse, followed their incredibly successful Man Of Colours album with the industrial and unconventional album Big Wheel. While Big Wheel is an exceptional album, it was no Man Of Colours. Perhaps there is a stage in every musical career when a pinnacle has been reached and subsequent albums, while good on their own, don't necessarily add to the artist’s body of work.
Despite the sonic shift, the cover art of Earth And Sun And Moon is extraordinary. It is inspired by indigenous artwork and, I don't know about you but, I find this form of art to be very pleasing as there is always a story to be told and a lesson to be learnt. Let's just hope the artwork isn’t the only highlight of Earth And Sun And Moon.
Feeding Frenzy has an interesting and very familiar tempo. Think Deep Purple meets Midnight Oil. The shifts in rhythm seem out-of-place, but you quickly come to appreciate the genius behind this composition. While Feeding Frenzy is not your standard Midnight Oil track, it does offer some enjoyment, especially if you listen to it numerous times.
My Country is certainly not their strongest song. It is a B-side at best. That said, as with Feeding Frenzy, I find that I appreciate it more, the more I listen to it.
Renaissance Man lacks the energy Midnight Oil is known for. There are certain elements that work, but it is not a true Midnight Oil song. It's too campy for my liking.
Earth And Sun And Moon is an overproduced mess. As with Renaissance Man, it is another example of Midnight Oil going for a campy sound. While Earth And Sun And Moon is a cool album name, the song should have been left in the studio.
Truganini is textbook Midnight Oil. It's about time! However, it provides such a shift in musicality that one can only imagine, with bemusement, why the previous songs even exist and where they fit into the Midnight Oil legacy.
Bushfire isn't bad in places, but it fails to impress overall.
Drums Of Heaven is a song that leaves me speechless. Not because it is good, but because of how bad it is. Drums Of Heaven ironically lacks a killer drum beat. Seriously, other than an excellent distorted guitar element, there is nothing to praise here. Normally, I hate being so negative in reviews, but I have to call a spade a spade.
Outbreak Of Love is sonically incredible. I love it! Yes, it is soft rock, but it is done well.
In The Valley isn't a bad soft rock song, but it still doesn't sound like the Midnight Oil we know and love.
Tell Me The Truth has a killer groove that will get you moving. I absolutely love it!
Now Or Neverland has a fantastic bass beat. I love the lead and rhythm guitar, but the bass guitar is one of the most underappreciated instruments in history. While it's present in every song, it is rarely highlighted. I certainly would like to hear more bass in all recordings. No, I'm not talking about doof doof bass, I'm referring to actually hearing the strums and reverberation of the real instrument. It resonates with my soul and I love the instrument.
Sadly, Earth And Sun And Moon is not the follow-up to Blue Sky Mining that many fans would have been expecting. There is certainly an EP worth of quality material here, but it honestly surprises me that the record label didn’t block the release of the album. I also feel it was shortsighted of Midnight Oil to choose Nick Launay over Diesel And Dust and Blue Sky Mining collaborative producer Warne Livesey. Thankfully, Midnight Oil would record Redneck Wonderland and Capricornia with Livesey and while my review of those albums will be published in the coming days, let's just say they sound like Midnight Oil.
For this review, I listened to the 1993 mastering on TIDAL Hi-Fi. Despite not connecting with the album, I can say that it wasn't due to poor mastering. Some things were done really well on this album, but it is the mediocre elements and shift in musicality that resulted in a less than pleasing experience.