Denai Moore – ‘Modern Dread’ review: gifted vocalist showcases signs of gentle evolution

The high points on Moore's third album can get lost within the record's vast and veering structure

You can guarantee at least three things when you check into a Denai Moore song: bubbling, groovy synths, remarkable melodic structures and soaring vocals. The latter was first showcased in captivating style in 2014 with her breakthrough guest feature on SBTRKT’s ‘The Light’ from the British producer’s second album ‘Wonder Where We Land’, which quickly confirmed her as one-to-watch.

The 26-year-old naturally utilised the power of her voice, which possesses the ability to shift temperatures within a few bars, to devastating effect on her first two solo albums ‘Elsewhere’ (2015) and ‘We Used to Bloom’ (2017), and she continues this trend with her third LP ‘Modern Dread’.

This new collection follows another similar pattern to her earlier work as Moore’s gentle harmonies are laid over formidable and infectious pop-heavy production. On ‘Modern Dread’, Moore deftly manages to deliver on any expectations that may have been placed on her by showcasing her gentle evolution as an artist. Presenting a more mature version of herself this time round, her latest album is therefore able to expertly explore themes of hopelessness and concern for the future.

Lead single ‘To The Brink’ is a gorgeous love song that’s equipped with march-bang snares and club-ready bass, accompanying Moore’s towering vocals which float between whispers and rage: “Wanting nothing more than to throw away my phone / Wanting to feel less in my chest: is it possible? / Just look what you’ve done, just be straight to me — don’t be so long”.

While bold and confrontational in parts, there’s also space in ‘Modern Dread’ for pared-back love songs; the kind made to curl up with a lover to. However, while some tracks of that ilk stand out, others, like ‘Turn Off The Radio’ and ‘Honour’, sound superfluous. The album’s structure lacks a certain continuity, dropping listeners in-between genres and making for a jarring listen front-to-back. Stand-out track ‘Slate’ veers towards full-on pop, but unfortunately gets lost due to its placing near the end of the album’s set of slowed-down love songs.

A tighter and more compact project would have elevated some of the album’s more enlightening moments, but, when taken as a whole, ‘Modern Dread’ ultimately disappoints.


Denai Moore - 'Modern Dread'

Release date: July 3

Record label: Because Music