Thomas Tantrum's second album is a delightful devil-may-care collection from the Southampton indie-popsters.
Megan Thomas throws away character-filled vocals like they were pennies into a wishing well, at once a collision of carefully judged drawl and instinctual departure from anything you could write down as sheet music.
It's a mature and self-assured performance that provides a lyrical pivot point around which the backing vocals and instrumanetal support can spin and soar.
Perhaps it's because we've heard it before, back in March, but the single Sleep holds its ground as track four on Mad By Moonlight. It's still as classy as it was earlier in the year, and it's where the album really kicks into gear after two opening tracks that verge on excellence and the less distinctive, but no less enjoyable, third track Cold Gold.
I often find albums seem to peak at the beginning of their second third, and Mad By Moonlight is no exception. Track five, Hot Hot Summer, carries on where Sleep leaves off, making more of a high plateau than a high point - no rollercoaster ride of quality here, the enjoyment level hits an early high and sustains through to the end. Impressive stuff.
As I mentioned above, Mad By Moonlight for me really gets started at track four, as the Lulu-esque "we-e-ell" gives Sleep a punchy opening that sticks in the listener's mind. Luckily, however, Mad By Moonlight is good enough to listen to on a loop, so just skip the first three tracks and listen to them when your CD player returns to them for the second time. Or, if you're a downloader, just stick Sleep up top on your Thomas Tantrum playlist.
Besides that, there are strains of many of my favourite female artists in here, including (but not limited to) more than a little of the Diana Vickers in certain lines Megan Thomas casts into the musical mixing pot. The overall effect is anything but derivative, however; Thomas Tantrum as a group have a distinctive yet welcoming sound, which draws the listener into a comforting, sonic hug.
Final Score: 85%