Self-exploration is rarely a serene experience, but on Moon Diagrams’ debut LP, Moses Archuleta uses the dissolution of a relationship as an opportunity for contemplation. Lifetime of Love is a reflective journey loosely focused into a thoughtful collage through which Archuleta analyzes the past, present, and future. Looking back and confronting the past is a recurring theme throughout the album, partially because it was written over nearly a decade, and partially because as Archuleta was composing and compiling the record he was dealing with a divorce and the hauntings of family estrangement.
As a founding member of Deerhunter, Archuleta was always more interested in contributing to the band than in solo experimentation, but by 2017 he had simply built up a collection of tracks which needed an outlet. Despite finding himself in an emotional vacuum, the stars aligned for the release of an LP via Geographic North, and Archuleta decided it might be cathartic for songs that had only existed in his head to find their way to an external audience.
Beneath the luxurious textures and cosmic rhythms, the record is intimate, yet approachable. It’s this gutsy confrontation with desire and longing which counters the mellow, sometimes repetitive sounds that provide Lifetime of Love with a crucial immediacy.
That’s not to say that the album isn’t energetic. It’s clear that Archuleta was anxious to explore every possible angle of electronica throughout the LP, challenging himself and the listener and never staying in the same lane for long. He transitions from the ghostly, atmospheric beats of “Night Moves” to ambient introspection on “Blue Ring” while retaining the pensive mood which gives the album so much weight. Though delicate electronica gives most of the record its shape, the strongest moment occurs on the final song, when Archuleta trades hushed tones for a vibrant foray into pop. “End of Heartache” stands out from the rest of Lifetime of Love as a foil to minimalism in the form of a climactic dance hall daze. Of course, the end of the track fades into the same introspective space the rest of the album inhabits, yet without irony or defeat.
In the past, Archuleta has claimed to feel more comfortable in the collaborative space of a band rather than the seclusion of a solo project, but Lifetime of Love is the exception to the rule. These tracks never could have existed in any other place simply because they are bound to Archuleta’s experiences as much as his ideas. Leaving the past behind is never easy, and often the act of doing so manifests as a panic-inducing grasping at empty space. But even if the searching is fraught with dead ends, Lifetime of Love proves there can be contentment in confusion. As a result, this record is strangely hopeful even at its most disaffected.
Moon Diagrams will celebrate the release of Lifetime of Love tonight at Space 2 alongside Atlas Sound. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $15. 21+ to enter.